Dead or alive, keep trees intact for habitat not firewood

News article |

There’s nothing better than a roaring wood fire on a chilly South East night, and local authorities are reminding the community to ensure their firewood has been collected legally.

Natural Resources South East Senior Investigations and Compliance Officer Drew Laslett said there had been increasing incidences of illegal firewood cutting and collection in the South East and Western Victoria.

“Most people know that living native trees are protected,” Mr Laslett said.

“What they may not realise, however, is that large dead trees may also be protected under the Native Vegetation Act.”

Large dead trees with a circumference of two or more metres are protected across most of the region. Native trees provide critical habitat for local native species such as the endangered Red-tailed Black-Cockatoo, and breeding habitat for many other native animals.

“These large trees can take hundreds of years to grow, and with limited native forest in the region we need to protect what is left – including the dead trees,” Mr Laslett said.

“Local farmers have expressed their concern regarding trespassing and theft of firewood from their properties. Together with SAPOL and forestry representatives, we’ve formed a focus group to raise awareness and increase patrols to detect illegal activity.”

Brevet Sergeant Leo Price said the focus group is also concerned about the unsafe practices being used by illegal wood cutters.

“Buyers of firewood are encouraged to ask their supplier where the wood is from, and to be satisfied that it is from a legal source,” he said.

Alternative sources of safe and sustainable firewood are being investigated.

If you see or suspect illegal wood cutting, take note of vehicle registrations and report the matter to SAPOL on 131 444 or your local police station.

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