Introduction

Two local men will appear in the Rotorua District Court next week in relation to the theft of ponga logs from public conservation land in the Rotorua District.

Date:  21 September 2016

54 ponga logs, a trailer and a chainsaw were seized by DOC compliance officers as part of an ongoing surveillance operation targeting illegal activity on public conservation land. It is believed the ponga logs taken from DOC land are being sold commercially across the central North Island.

"Theft of timber, firewood and ponga logs from public conservation areas is a nationwide issue which has ongoing effects for conservation values" explains DOC Operations Manager Jeff Milham.

"It's an issue DOC takes very seriously and we are actively working with the community and using ongoing surveillance measures to combat this illegal activity."

"Investigating illegal activity such as this can be challenging without support from local community. In this case, the individuals were caught in the act of cutting and removing ponga logs from Rotoehu Conservation Area as part of an ongoing operation and DOC's compliance team worked effectively to bring about a prosecution."

The public and landscaping or firewood merchants are urged to check the source of any ponga or firewood they are purchasing to be sure it is from a legitimate source on private land. It is an offence to remove or knowingly receive any vegetation from public conservation land.

The maximum sentence for the offence is two years' imprisonment and a $100,000 fine, and offenders risk forfeiture of vehicles, trailers and equipment. DOC urges anyone who sees suspicious activity around local reserves or conservation areas to immediately call the toll free number 0800 DOCHOT (362 468).

Contact

Jeff Milham
Operations Manager Tauranga/Rotorua District
Phone: +64 27 240 5081

Caraline Abbott
Media support
Phone: +64 21 0296 5019

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