Local Land Services issues warning over illegal wood collection

Loggers are being warned of fines and legal action if they are caught illegally collecting fire wood in the Cowra Shire.

A Cowra Shire resident raised concerns with Cowra Council after seeing trees being cut on the road side near Wyangala and debris left across the road.

A spokesperson from Cowra Council said the collection of fire wood on Council's road reserves is prohibited.

"Council's Roadside Vegetation Management Plan, adopted by Council in 2015 advises that Council does not authorise the collection of fire wood from any road reserve or verge in the shire," the spokesperson said.

"A great deal of Cowra Shire's road sides are classed as Endangered Ecological Communities and as such, the collection of fire wood is prohibited.

"The collection of fire wood in these areas is a major threatening process and one which impacts on the native vegetation in the Cowra Shire."

Local Land Services (LLS), who are the authority who can issue fines to illegal loggers, said there are restrictions regarding the collection of firewood on public land.

"It can only be collected and removed under a permit from the relevant management agency such as the local Council, RMS, NSW State Forestry," a spokesperson for LLS said.

"Authorities can issue significant fines to anyone caught collecting wood from the side of the road."

The spokesperson said as well as posing a safety risk, collection of firewood along roadsides can have a negative impact on the environment.

"Roadside corridors and public reserves are often highly valued for biodiversity conservation as they act as islands of natural habitat for native animals as they move across the landscape," they said.

"Removing vegetation from these areas erodes habitat connectivity and reduces the shelter available for both flora and fauna."

In the Cowra district a number of roadsides are classified as Travelling Stock Reserves (TSRs).

Under the Local Land Services Act 2013, collecting wood from TSRs is illegal and fines of up to $5,500 can apply.

"Central Tablelands Local Land Services reminds the community that legal action may be taken against anyone found removing firewood from TSRs," the spokesperson said.

"Central Tablelands Local Land Services manages approximately 370 TSRs.

"While most of these reserves are signposted, if you are uncertain about the status of a roadside reserve, you can search using the mapping tool found at centraltablelands.lls.nsw.gov.au/livestock/stock-routes or contact your nearest Local Land Services Office on 1300 795 299 for more information."