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Illegal wood cutting threatens reserves


The Parks and Wildlife Service (PWS) is concerned that an increase in illegal wood cutting is threatening the values of conservation reserves in south-eastern Tasmania.

Parks and Wildlife Service acting manager Southern Region, Shane Breen, said that staff are receiving calls from reserve neighbours almost daily about the practice of illegal wood cutting.

"The combined activity of illegal wood cutting and removal and rubbish dumping are the biggest threats to the biodiversity of reserves such as the Gravelly Ridge, Spinning Gum, Little Quoin, Alpha Pinnacle conservation areas, the Meehan Range Nature Recreation Area and the Risdon Vale Public Reserve," Mr Breen said.

"We have received more complaints from the public this winter than in the past five years, with most of the complaints from neighbours who have seen it happening and we encourage the public to continue reporting suspected unlawful activity."

"Parks staff are patrolling reserves regularly at this time of the year when the activity is at its peak. On a recent weekend PWS staff apprehended four people illegally cutting wood and seized wood and chainsaws.

"We estimate hundreds of tonnes of wood are being taken unlawfully from reserved land each year. While some people are cutting on private land with permission, many are not," Mr Breen said.

"As well as illegal wood cutting, barrier gates are regularly damaged or destroyed and illegal vehicle tracks are created, leading to damaging erosion. In addition, rubbish dumping appears to be a regular offence associated with wood gathering.

"The end result of this activity is the destruction of native habitats and ultimately, will be a loss of the biodiversity for which these reserves, mainly conservation areas, were protected in the first place."

People observing what they believe to be illegal wood cutting or rubbish dumping on reserved lands should contact PWS offices at Seven Mile Beach on 6214 8100 or Glenorchy on 6233 8532. While offices are not attended at all times, answering machines are checked regularly. Observers should note vehicle registration numbers and provide specific details of the location.

Penalties for damaging vegetation, driving off-road and littering on reserved lands can result in fines of up to $2400 per offence. Legislation enables officers to seize chainsaws and confiscate wood taken illegally.