As the cooler weather brings the chainsaws out of sheds and the collection of firewood becomes high on the agenda for many families. Forbes Shire Council would like to remind residents the removal of trees from council land without permission is illegal, the practice is potentially very costly, especially if the case is prosecuted in the Land and Environment Court.
“We were shocked to see the amount of damage at the Wildlife Reserve area at Gum Swamp,” say Forbes Shire Council Mayor, Phyllis Miller OAM. “Countless trees have been felled recently, some are even close to the water’s edge.
“This whole area is a protected wildlife reserve and we cannot and will not allow this to happen. Some of the recent State Government funding received by the Forbes Art Society has been allocated to this area for the construction of new bird hides and improving the existing. People travel from all over Australia to admire our amazing diversity of birds who occupy this region and we cannot afford to have this prized habitat destroyed.
“Residents and visitors have reported this illegal activity to Council on many occasions and a lot of the time the removal is occurring at night. These people know they are doing something wrong if choosing to do it at this time.”
Council rangers will be patrolling the area regularly with on the spot fines of $3000 issued to those caught cutting and collecting timber from the area. If Council deems necessary court imposed fines of up to $500,000 can occur.
“It disappoints us greatly that people would disrespect this beautiful wildlife refuge,” says local resident and Forbes Art Society project manager, Kim Muffet. “Taking timber from this area is criminal given it provides habitat for so many species of birds.
“As part of the Sculpture trail project with the Forbes Art Society, this area will be developed to accommodate more bird hides and security will be enhanced to ensure that people use the area appropriately.”
Council has surveillance cameras on site and has already caught an offender cutting timber in this reserve, who has been issued a warning. The timber cut has been confiscated and will be donated to the Forbes Men’s Shed. The Men’s Shed will raffle the firewood for fundraising purposes.