THE removal of trees from a Central Goldfields farm has landed one property owner with $25,000 in fines.
The Department of Environment and Primary Industries has renewed calls for people to follow due permit processes or risk major penalties.
A farmer from Mt Hooghly, near Dunolly, was this week fined in the Maryborough Magistrates Court over the illegal removal of 21 eucalyptus trees from his property.
The court heard that in July 2012, the man engaged a contractor to remove the trees without a planning permit.
Some of the trees were estimated to be between 200 and 400-years-old.
The matter was jointly prosecuted by DEPI and Central Goldfields Shire.
DEPI’s senior biodiversity officer Peter Johnson said it was an extremely serious offence that threatened native wildlife populations.
“The hollows in these old trees can’t be instantly replaced for wildlife in the area,” he said.
“A number of these are threatened species that are dependent on hollow-bearing trees, and are particularly vulnerable to this type of impact.
“Many bird species also need the protection and shelter of trees to move unhindered between food resources.”
Central Goldfields Shire’s general manager technical services David Sutcliffe said the issue had highlighted a breach of regulations.
“The council has processes in place to protect our environment and also community members,” he said.
“The outcome of this case is likely to provide a deterrent to illegal clearing for some time.”
Mr Sutcliffe said if anyone in the shire was unsure of the council’s processes and regulations they were urged to contact the council.
He said that would help prevent similar events occurring.
The man received an aggregate fine of $20,000, with conviction, and was ordered to pay the Council’s costs of $5116 and the Department of Environment and Primary Industries (DEPI) costs of $194.