Firewood theft costs thousands

A 39-year-old Kyneton man has been convicted and fined $3000 after pleading guilty to two charges related to illegal firewood cutting from public land.

On Friday, February 16, the man admitted to damaging wildlife habitat and illegally cutting native red stringybark trees in the Metcalfe State Forest in September 2022.

Parks Victoria and Conservation Regulator authorised officers, police and Game Management Authority investigated after the man was caught on concealed cameras using a chainsaw to illegally cut timber in the forest.

The cameras were installed as part of the Parks Victoria-led Operation Centaur targeting the illegal removal of critical habitat and hollow-bearing trees on public land in the Central Highlands.

Parks Victoria ranger team leader Mathew Sobey said the impact of the crime is why offenders face significant fines or jail time.

“The loss of these native habitat trees for personal gain is devastating and it will take hundreds of years to replace them,” he said.

“The court result sends a clear message that illegal firewood theft for personal or commercial gain will not be tolerated on Victoria’s public land.”

In sentencing, Magistrate Megan Aumair outlined the importance of deterring this kind of illegal behaviour.

She reiterated that there are lawful ways and times to collect firewood for personal use and that permits are available for commercial purposes.

When a tree is cut into blocks or fallen and decaying logs are removed from the ground, their habitat values are destroyed.

The Metcalfe State Forest is home to a range of native wildlife that rely on tree hollows for shelter, nesting, and protection from predators, including sugar gliders and yellow-footed antechinus, as well as white-throated treecreepers and bougainville skinks.

Firewood can only be collected from designated domestic firewood collection areas during collection seasons and can only be used for personal use.

Details: or

Report any illegal cutting or removal of firewood to Parks Victoria on 131 963 or the Conservation Regulator on 136 186.