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Man convicted for habitat destruction in Victorian conservation reserve
A man has been convicted in the Bendigo Magistrates Court after Parks Victoria caught him felling and removing trees and illegally destroying habitat in the Shelbourne Nature Conservation Reserve near Bendigo in 2016.
The Lockwood man destroyed at least 20 cubic metres of unique wildlife habitat and created vehicle tracks to access the wood further damaging the environment.
In an attempt to avoid detection, the man cut the trees at night, removed the number plates from his 4WD, and used a quiet electric chainsaw to cut the wood. He had surveyed the area in daylight and nailed reflectors taken from road signs to trees, so they could be easily found at night.
Parks Victoria authorised officers and Victoria Police detected the man during a compliance campaign. Hidden surveillance cameras photographed the man’s vehicle exiting the reserve with the wood. Joint patrols caught the man in the act of cutting wood.
The Magistrate found the man guilty and he was ordered to forfeit the chainsaws and generator used to cut the wood to the Crown. He was also ordered to pay $2000 to the Mid Loddon Conservation Management Network. Parks Victoria seized the wood illegally cut from the reserve.
Parks Victoria and the Mid Loddon Landcare Conservation Management Network volunteer group manage the Shelbourne Nature Conservation Reserve which is a significant wildlife habitat protection area.
The reserve is crucial for the ongoing survival of the threatened Bush Stone Curlew and other species such as the Swift Parrot.
Commenting on the successful prosecution, Matt Sobey, Parks Victoria’s Ranger Team Leader Bendigo, stated “we hope that this court case sends a clear message to other offenders who may think it’s easy to illegally harvest wood and damage habitat. Parks Victoria takes the destruction of habitat seriously and will investigate and prosecute offenders.
“Parks Victoria uses a number of techniques to detect illegal behaviour – in this case we used hidden surveillance cameras and regular patrols of the area by compliance officers. The accused was caught in the act by compliance officers.
“By prosecuting offenders we help preserve habitat for the plants and animals we manage. The community can play their part by reporting any illegal behaviour in our parks – particularly the destruction of habitat – to Parks Victoria or DELWP.”
1st April 2016 - Distinguished environmentalist appointed to new Parks Victoria role
27th January 2016 - Parks Victoria introduces beach wheelchair at Wilsons Promontory
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