Illegal firewood collection: ‘zero tolerance’

Residents are reminded that felling trees or removing wood from national parks is illegal after increased incidents in Durridgere State Conservation Area near Mudgee.

The NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) NPWS Mudgee Area Manager Catherine Watt said many activities where large amounts of wood have been removed appear to be related to commercial firewood collection.

"Illegal firewood removal has occurred at various locations along Summerhill Road, Cliffdale Road and the Ulan Road and we are concerned that this illegal activity is on the increase,” Ms Watt said.

“NPWS staff are patrolling national parks and conservation areas regularly, including weekends, so the chances of getting caught are high. 

“We have also installed surveillance cameras in several reserves to monitor activities and have adopted a ‘zero tolerance’ approach to illegal firewood collectors.

“The conservation areas around Mudgee and Gulgong contain a number of endangered species that could be harmed by these illegal activities.

“Penalties for harming endangered species range between $55,000 and $220,000 and can also result in jail time.

“It is the responsibility of every firewood cutter to know who’s land they are on when they collect firewood. 

“It is essential to get permission from the landholder before collecting firewood and people should only buy firewood from reputable sellers.

"Deadwood plays a vital role in the environment by providing essential habitat for many small ground-dwelling animals.

"Fallen trees, logs and small branches are an essential part of the natural ecosystem. 

“They are vital for ground feeding birds, frogs, lizards and more than 20% of native mammals, providing shelter and a home for many food source species such as insects and other invertebrates."

"Dead standing trees are also important roosting sites for many birds and tree hollows are essential for many bird species, possums and gliders, as well as microbats," Ms Watt said.

"We are concerned that timber has even been collected from clearly signposted conservation areas with illegal cutters pushing their way through vegetation and cutting green trees to get the timber out.

“The perpetrators obviously hold very little respect for our natural environment,” Ms Watt said.

People wishing to collect firewood from state forests must obtain a permit from Forests NSW.

Mid-Western Regional Council does not allow firewood collection from any roadside or public land in accordance with Section 629 of the Local Government Act.

The removal of timber or collection of firewood from travelling stock reserves (TSR) is an illegal activity and penalties may apply.