Forest owners are stunned by the elaborate plans being made to retrieve and steal firewood in the south-west.
Police have received reports of woodcutters illegally entering private forest at all hours of the day and night and removing hundreds of tonnes of wood.
In one incident at Bessibelle, north-east of Portland, thieves cut down large trees causing them to fall directly over a track and disabling access into the Australian Bluegum Plantation (ABP).
There have also been reports of thefts of vital firefighting equipment, including large poly tanks, illegal shooting of wildlife, dumping of rubbish and creation of extensive motorbike tracks.
Regional forester Noel Bull said in-forest cameras sent information direct to his smart phone to catch people in the act.
"I am amazed at the extent these people will go to remove wood - installing flood lights and using big heavy equipment to retrieve as much as they can," he said.
"The size of some of these trees is enormous but these individuals will walk away with every last wood chip to make an easy profit."
Mr Bull said forests in the south-west and across to South Australia were being targeted.
"From Branxholme to Casterton, Penola to Lucindale - there is not a parcel of forest that these culprits have not hit and the sector is saying 'enough is enough'," he said.
"The theft and damage needs to end."
A theft from an ABP in Branxholme last week led police to uncover a cannabis grow-house, weapons and 30 cubic metres of stolen wood at a Heywood property
The theft was allegedly observed on camera.
ABP supervisor Jack Carter said the sector was considering engaging security services.
"Sadly, these people think that these privately owned forests are open for their use and destruction," he said.
"This isn't a recreation reserve, a farm or open paddock; this is private property and critical habitat for a number of species.
"We have instances on camera of people driving in with an empty ute and trailer only to emerge a few hours later with both loads full of wood. This would be valued at hundreds of dollars if it was to be on-sold.
"I don't think people realise exactly how much damage they are causing. They may think it's just a dead tree, but the reality is that large hollow trees can take hundreds of years to form and as a result are disappearing from the landscape faster than can be replaced."
Green Triangle Forest Industries Hub executive general manager Liz McKinnon urged the community to act as "additional eyes" to support the industry.
"Our forest owners work tirelessly to ensure the health of these forests but this ongoing illegal behaviour is taking its toll and the industry is fed-up," she said.
"It's unthinkable to drive into a farmers paddock and harvest their redgum trees but these thoughtless thieves believe they have the right to rip down gates and take what they desire from these private properties," she said.
"Stopping these illegal activities is going to take a whole community effort. Foresters need the help of neighbouring property owners and the general public to urgently report illegal activity in plantations to ensure perpetrators are stopped in their tracks for good."
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