A man has been fined for cutting down trees from a Great Southern bluegum plantation and selling it as firewood. Matthew Davis Armstrong, 33, appeared on five charges of trespass and stealing in Albany Magistrates Court on April 6, relating to incidents where he took wood from the Australian Bluegum Plantation on Muir Highway in Forrest Hill across December and January. The company has more than 31,000ha of blue gum plantations across Albany and uses the trees to create premium wood chips which are exported to Asia for use in the pulp and paper industry. During the court appearance, police prosecutor Sgt Matt Hartfield told the court Armstrong entered the plantation without permission on December 19, January 1, 8, 12 and 22, and each time “proceeded to cut up wood, utilise it and on-sell as firewood”. Armstrong’s lawyer said he was picking up wood from under the trees, not cutting trees down, and he would sell the wood as his primary source of income. She said Armstrong was “unaware” he couldn’t take wood from the area. During his court appearance, Armstrong said he was “just cleaning (the wood) from the forest floor”. His lawyer told the court that following the charges, Armstrong was “still chopping wood” and selling it, but now chose to go to “a place where it’s legal to do so”. Magistrate Dianne Scaddan fined Armstrong $2500 in total for the trespass and stealing charges. “Just because the gate’s open, that’s not an invitation to go on to someone else’s property,” Ms Scaddan said. In the same court appearance, he was also sentenced on one charge of driving with an illicit drug in his oral fluid or blood and one charge of possessing methamphetamine, which occurred on October 6, and another charge of driving with an illicit drug in his oral fluid or blood on January 5.