Residents illegally obtaining firewood from state forests are putting themselves at risk of a $10,000 fine or one year in jail.
Images supplied to the Mail by a concerned Busselton resident show firewood being collected in an area of state forest outside designated firewood areas.
The resident said people were using Kolhagen and Jacka roads to enter the state forest to source “trailer load after trailer load of firewood” causing destruction to surrounding vegetation.
“Firewood suppliers need to produce documentation of where they are sourcing firewood and also it needs to be certified dry to ensure reductions in smoke emissions,” the person said.
“But every second house along the Buswell Highway can sell wood from their driveways or on Gumtree.”
A Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions spokesperson said the unauthorised collection and trade of firewood was an ongoing concern across the South West.
“During the 2016-17 financial year, the department issued 23 infringement notices for the unlawful taking of forest produce,” the spokesperson said.
“While many people do the right thing, and collect firewood for their own use from firewood collection areas, there are some people collecting firewood outside designated firewood areas, without a licence or permit and/or selling it illegally online through social media and buy and sell websites.”
According to the spokesperson, to sell firewood sourced from state forest a Forest Products Commission contract is required.
To sell firewood obtained from private property, a clearing permit from the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation is required and in some cases a FPC contract.
DBCA currently works with website administrators and local governments to stop the illegal collection and sale of firewood.
“Anyone who sees any suspicious or illegal activity is encouraged to report it to the department,” the person said.
“Anyone caught illegally selling firewood could face a maximum penalty of $4,000, per offence.
“People caught collecting firewood from outside approved areas without an appropriate licence or permit can also be fined and may face penalties of up to $10,000 or 12 months imprisonment.”
Maps of these firewood collection areas are available from DBCA offices.