Three Forbes locals have been convicted and fined a total of $12,000 after being caught illegally collecting firewood on local national park land.
National Parks and Wildlife Service Central West Area Manager Fiona Buchanan said the hefty fines should serve as warning that firewood collection is illegal and can be costly.
“Collecting firewood is not permitted on national parks, nature reserves and state conservation areas throughout the central west,” Ms Buchanan said.
“It is the responsibility of the person collecting the wood to determine what land tenure they are on and be aware of what regulations are in place.
“In the recent prosecution three men from Forbes pleaded guilty in court to separate offences detected using surveillance cameras on national park estate.
“The offences for which they were fined included cutting and removing vegetation.
“Unfortunately, it’s not an isolated incident and anyone breaking the rules should be aware NPWS staff are patrolling national parks and conservation areas regularly, including weekends.
“We are also using surveillance cameras and other methods, so the chances of getting caught are high.
“Firewood collection, including the removal of fallen trees and deadwood is not permitted in national parks as it destroys important habitat for native fauna.
“Fallen trees, logs and small branches are an essential part of the natural ecosystem and provide shelter and homes to many small ground-dwelling animals and ground feeding birds, frogs and lizards.
“In addition to the recent prosecution, last winter the Central West Area issued official cautions and penalty infringement notices and we are continuing our efforts this year to stop the illegal practice.”
Central West Local Land Services advises that the same rules, penalties and surveillance activities are in place for travelling stock reserves.