Orange City Council is calling on the community to be its eyes and ears and report illegal firewood collection after critical habitats were recently damaged.
Council staff discovered illegal firewood collection had occurred in Bloomfield Park, near the corner of Bloomfield Road and Huntley Road. The collection of firewood or timber from roadsides and public reserves is prohibited.
Fallen trees, which provide critical habitat for endangered and vulnerable species, had been cut up and taken from the site.
Orange City Council’s Environmental Sustainability Policy Committee Chair Cr Mario Previtera said it was a devastating blow to the sensitive ecology of the area that contains many vulnerable and endangered species that rely of box gum grassy woodlands for survival.
“To some people it may have looked like a just a fallen tree, a log on the ground or a bunch of fallen branches but this timber is essential to the survival of microorganisms in that area,” Cr Previtera said.
“When you remove the food and shelter for these microorganisms you damage the food web of endangered ecological box gum grassy woodland environments, by removing the food source for small native mammals (such as marsupial mice) and reptiles and by default you remove the food source for birds of prey such as Hawks, Kites and the Powerful Owl, which is listed as a ‘vulnerable’ species.
“These logs and branched provide essential wildlife habitat and are characteristic of woodlands, the ground cover offered provides a wide range of flora and fauna with vital food, homes and the protection from predators including feral cats and foxes.
“It’s a very sensitive balance and we need to respect our environment.
“Someone has accessed this area, used a chainsaw on a number of these large fallen trees and logs and then taken them away.
“It is illegal and it needs to stop.
“Anyone caught taking logs from these areas is open to prosecution and I’m asking the community to help spread the word about this issue, and educate people who may think it’s ok to steal from public land.”
Anyone with information should contact Orange City Council on 63938023.