A 38-year-old Sebastopol man was convicted and fined more than $10,000 on Monday in the Ballarat Magistrates’ Court after pleading guilty to illegally cutting and removing fire wood from the Ross Creek State forest.
It is an offence under the Forests Act 1958 to cut or remove timber from a State forest without a permit.
Magistrate Brear stated that if the man had not plead guilty, he would have given him four months in jail.
This court outcome was a result of an investigation in April last year, which included three search warrants of Smythesdale properties.
This is the second successful court outcome for this investigation with the man’s 42-year-old brother also convicted, fined $500 and given a community corrections order for similar offending in January this year.
The successful prosecution follows an investigation by Authorised Officers from the Conservation Regulator, which was assisted by information from members of the local community.
Two vehicles, one truck, four chainsaws and wood seized from the man were ordered to be forfeited and will be disposed of.
Illegal firewood collection is a priority for the Conservation Regulator given the significant negative impacts on forest health, threatened species, public safety and the sustainability of firewood resources relied upon by local communities to keep them warm over colder months.
The community can anonymously report the illegal cutting or removal of firewood to the Conservation Regulator by calling 136 186.
Chief Conservation Regulator, Kate Gavens said, “The Conservation Regulator takes these offences very seriously and we will continue to investigate and prosecute reports of illegal firewood removal.”
“The illegal cutting and removal of firewood can have many adverse impacts on the health of our forests, creates public safety risks and can impact the sustainability of local timber supply for community members doing the right thing.”