The Conservation Regulator and Parks Victoria have launched a statewide operation to address the destruction of wildlife habitat caused by illegal firewood collection in Victoria’s forests, parks and reserves.
Operation Hollows is targeting the unlawful removal of commercial quantities of firewood from public land, and suppliers of illegal firewood.
Uncontrolled firewood collection can lead to the loss of important habitat such as hollow logs and dead trees.
Habitat loss has a serious impact on iconic native species that rely on our forests to survive, such as the Powerful Owl, South-eastern Red-tailed Black Cockatoo, Greater Glider, Pygmy Possum and many others.
Authorised officers will undertake patrols in forests, parks and reserves and use cameras to detect offenders.
As organised groups are known to illegally collect firewood at night, patrols will take place at all times of the day and night and on both weekdays and weekends.
The Conservation Regulator’s Major Investigations and Operations Unit and Parks Victoria’s compliance team will target suppliers suspected of unlawfully collecting and distributing illegal firewood.
As part of the operation, anyone caught illegally removing firewood can face a fine of up to $8,261, and vehicles and equipment may also be seized.
Commercial firewood suppliers need to have the appropriate licences and permits to collect and sell firewood obtained in Victoria.
Domestic firewood collection is allowed in designated collection areas during a firewood collection season, and people may collect up to two cubic metres per day and 16 cubic metres per financial year.
The Conservation Regulator and Parks Victoria recognise that many people are facing significant hardship, having been impacted by drought, bushfires and now the coronavirus (COVID-19) and may be relying on firewood from state forests to supplement their heating needs.
Over the past few weeks the Conservation Regulator has detected thousands of tonnes of firewood that have been removed illegally, reducing important supply for hundreds of households across Victoria.
Operation Hollows will help protect the environment and firewood supplies for community members through what will be a difficult and challenging year.
Further firewood collection rules are at www.ffm.vic.gov.au.