A Glengarry man has been convicted and fined $5,000 and had his Komatsu harvester forfeited to the Crown, after pleading guilty to offences relating to his operation of an illegal commercial firewood business.

Department of Environment Land Water and Planning (DELWP) authorised officers caught the man red handed in the Boola Boola state forest north of Glengarry on the 27th of June 2016 and later executed a search warrant at his residential premises on 23 August 2016, seizing the $18,000 harvester and other items used in the commission of the offending.

DELWP Senior Forests Investigator Samantha Moore, said: “DELWP are once again targeting the illegal removal of commercial quantities of timber from Victorian public land throughout 2017.”

“As part of Operation Block Splitter, DELWP authorised officers are investigating reports of suspected illegal firewood suppliers and those caught can face significant penalties and potential loss of plant and equipment used in the commission of an offence.

“Our officers may not always be obvious, but we will be out in the bush on a daily basis.

“The result in the Latrobe Valley Magistrates’ Court today is a deterrent for those considering illegally removing firewood from public land and selling it for profit,” Ms Moore said.

Assistant Chief Fire Officer, Chris Stephenson has encouraged the Gippsland community to do the right thing and report illegal behaviour in the bush.

“If you are aware of the illegal sale or collection of firewood we encourage you to report it by calling DELWP on 136 186 and mentioning ‘Operation Block Splitter’.

“All information provided will be treated in the strictest confidence.

“We’d also like to remind the community that there is a process you need to follow if you are interested in legitimately operating a commercial firewood business,” Mr Stephenson said.

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