Central West Local Land Services has warned that some people could be buying illegally-sourced firewood without realising.
While most firewood suppliers source their wood legally, others do not, so residents are being urged to ask their firewood supplier where they sourced their firewood.
Local Land Services is responsible for the care and control of Travelling Stock Reserves (TSRs) and firewood cannot be taken from these areas.
TSR Team Leader, Peta Holcombe has reminded firewood suppliers and buyers that there are no exemptions when it comes to taking firewood from TSRs and that hefty fines apply to anyone caught removing timber or disturbing live or dead vegetation on the TSR network.
“Our staff closely monitor activity on TSRs and we have seen evidence of commercial operators removing firewood,” Ms Holcombe said.
“Up to 80 tonnes of timber was illegally removed in the Nyngan area last year in what we believe was one operation.
“As a response, we are installing surveillance cameras and will take against anyone removing firewood or carrying out illegal activities such as dumping rubbish.”
In addition to forming a network of pathways for the movement of sheep and cattle, TSRs are a valuable refuge for many rare and endangered native plants and animals.
Fallen logs and standing dead timber provide critical habitat for a wide range of species and need to be left in the natural environment. Decaying timber and leaf litter are also important in the process of nutrient recycling back in the soil.
TSRs are open to the public during daylight hours for a range of recreational activities, such as picnicking and bushwalking.
Everyone has a role in protecting these areas and if you buy firewood that has been removed from TSRs, you are playing a role in their destruction and in reducing the social and environmental values they provide.
Members of the public are asked to report any illegal activity to Local Land Services on 1300 795 299, or to contact the police on 131444.
Making a note of information such as vehicle registration numbers, descriptions, locations and dates can provide valuable assistance in the prosecution of offenders.
Members of the public can apply for a permit to collect firewood from selected state forests. Contact 1300 655 687 for details or visit:www.forestrycorporation.com.au