OFFICERS from the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) recently executed a search warrant on a property near Daylesford, alleged to have been involved in the illegal removal of a commercial quantity of firewood from the Wombat State Forest. DELWP Regional Manager Forest and Fire Operations, Peter Kambouris said: “A search warrant executed last week has resulted in the seizure of a fourwheel drive ute, a hydraulic splitter, a chainsaw and small hand tools allegedly used in committing various offences against the Forests Act 1958.” “The search warrant was conducted as part of Operation Block Splitter, a State-wide compliance program targeting the illegal removal of commercial quantities of firewood from Victoria’s public land”, Mr Kambouris said. “Firewood is a diminishing resource not only within the Wombat State Forest but across Victoria, especially where there are smaller areas of disconnected public land. “The illegal collection of firewood has the potential to negatively impact on the environmental values within the forest through the removal of habitat, including the felling of hollow bearing trees, some of which are more than 100 years old.
“The search warrant was executed with the support of Victoria Police. “As part of Operation Block Splitter, officers will continue to investigate reports of suspected illegal firewood suppliers and those caught could face the potential loss of plant and equipment used in committing the offence, as well as up to $7,928 for each offence and the risk of imprisonment for up to one year if the matters are prosecuted in Court”. If you are aware of the illegal sale of firewood or any unauthorised activity relating to firewood on Victorian public land, we encourage you to report it by calling DELWP on 136 186 and mentioning ‘Operation Block Splitter’ or call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000. All information provided will be treated in the strictest confidence.