An Aboriginal group has installed a caretaker to protect a forest near South Australia’s Port Lincoln from an escalating spate of wood thefts.
- Wood thefts at Eyre Peninsula Wanilla Forest are escalating, with the locks being changed and cut at some locations
- A local Aboriginal group is ramping up protections including installing a caretaker
- Parts of the forest are maintained for conservation for species including the critically endangered local yellow-tailed black cockatoo
The group funds some of its programs from wood sales taken from the Wanilla Forest.
The Port Lincoln Aboriginal Community Council’s Heather Cox said there was a worrying increase in people chopping down trees and vandalism.
“This year there has been more than ever.
“You’ll find people in there all the time, so we’ve had to take the drastic step of putting on a caretaker that is actually onsite to try to reduce that.
“There’s no planning to their taking the wood. They’re dropping logs which are taking down other trees and making a mess, basically.”
Ms Cox said the wood being taken was being on-sold.
Concern for safety in forest
She said there were also dangers associated with unauthorised people going into the forest given its relative remoteness.
“Often there’s no reception, they can’t get emergency help.”
She said new signs would be put up and the caretaker would report anyone who should not be there to the police.
“We’ve had to even go around and put in a whole new lock system at great expense to us. So instead of going forwards we’re going backwards,” Ms Cox said.
The Wanilla Forest is a hardwood resource, including sugar gums, of about 800 hectares and about 30 kilometres north-east of Port Lincoln.
It is usually opened a few times a year when locals can bring a trailer and pay to fill it up with wood while having a picnic.
The forest also has a range of other timber varieties such as ironbark and spotted gum, suitable for fencing and garden beds.
Some parts are maintained for conservation for species including the yellow-tailed black cockatoo.
Only a small population of the bird species remains on Eyre Peninsula with the local population considered critically endangered.