Multiple offenders have today appeared in Rotorua District Court following prosecution for stealing wood from public reserves.
The prosecutions are the result of community involvement and increased surveillance to address the theft of trees and wood from public conservation land.
Scenic reserves administered by the Department of Conservation (DOC) under the Reserves Act 1977 are to protect and preserve areas of scenic interest, beauty, natural features or landscape.It is unlawful to remove wood or plants, whether alive or dead, from a scenic reserve.
This includes windfallen trees which have an important role in forest ecology.
Michael Jerome Leo Nicholson, Jordan William Robert Hodge and Connor Joseph Rivers pled guilty to a charge of removing wood from the Patetere Scenic Reserve in Mamaku.
Rivers and Hodge also admitted providing a false name and address when questioned by a DOC Ranger.
Rivers was sentenced to 100 hours community work and two months disqualification from driving a motor vehicle. Hodge was fined $1250 on the same charges.
On the charge of removing wood from Patetere Scenic Reserve Nicholson was ordered to come up for sentence if called upon within nine months, and two months disqualification from driving a motor vehicle.
In a separate incident Steven Peters, a 42 year-old paper maker of Kawerau, was convicted and fined $1250 for removing wood from Lake Rotoma Scenic Reserve.
This reserve is an ecologically important corridor and buffer to northern Lake Rotoma
In both cases DOC Rangers seized the chainsaws used by the offenders along with the stolen wood which was loaded onto the offenders' utes.
The maximum penalty for removing wood from a reserve without authority is imprisonment for up to two years and/or a fine of up to $100,000, and offenders are liable to have their saw and other gear seized.
DOC Operations manager Jeff Milham says DOC is concerned about ongoing theft of timber and ponga logs from public conservation land in the Rotorua District and is actively monitoring reserves for any sign of activity.
“DOC is willing to take enforcement action against any alleged offenders and appreciates the ongoing support of local communities in achieving this.”