A MYERS Flat man who cleared 37 tonnes of timber from crown land to sell as firewood has been fined $8,000 and placed on a good behaviour bond.
Trevor Baldwin, 47, used a freight liner truck and trailers to transport felled trees between Crabhole Creek Reserve in Goornong and his home.
The trees were processed for firewood and sold for a profit of about $6,600 between May and July, 2012.
The Bendigo Magistrates Court heard the collection left one of the largest cleared areas the Department of Environment and Primary Industries had seen in years.
Chrisanthi Paganis, acting for DEPI, told the court the clearing significantly impacted on local biodiversity and bird species.
She said it was a significant tree harvest that had reaped a large financial profit.
Mr Baldwin's defence counsel Ben Ihle argued his client was unaware of the legal restrictions at the time he collected the wood.
He said a man who held an agricultural lease on the site asked Mr Baldwin to clear some of the trees, so he could race horses on the site.
"It was a silly, silly mistake," Mr Ihle said.
The court was told the lease-holder admitted to DEPI officers he "mucked up" and failed to check whether permits were needed for Mr Baldwin to clear the area.
The lease-holder was not charged but has not had his license on the site renewed.
The court heard DEPI surveillance cameras captured footage of Mr Baldwin leaving with multiple tonnes worth of timber on a series of visits to the Goornong bushland.
Mr Ihle said Mr Baldwin was unaware of the legal ramifications under the Forest Act, and believed he wasn't doing anything wrong.
Magistrate Gerard Lethbridge said he accepted that Mr Baldwin was not a "renegade firewood merchant". But he said any offence destroying the environment needed to be treated seriously.
Mr Baldwin was ordered to pay $8,000 to the Mid-Loddon Sub Catchment Management Group to use for rehabilitation of land.