EPA pings Forestry Corp a third time in six days for allegedly breaking environmental laws “Forestry Corporation is a serial offender,” Nature Conservation Council Chief Executive Chris Gambian said.
“It is behaving like an outlaw organisation, not a government agency entrusted with managing 2 million hectares of public forests
“This is the third time in six days Forestry Corporation has been fined or prosecuted for serious breaches of environmental protection laws.
“Where is the responsible minister, Dugald Saunders, during all this? He should publicly condemn the reckless and lawless behaviour of this agency, but we haven’t heard a peep out of him.
“The government must establish a comprehensive independent review of Forestry Corporation to ensure it acts lawfully and sustainably.
“There is little evidence the corporation is meeting basic standards under the existing arrangements. It appears to requires root and branch reform.”
The fines and prosecutions of the past week are not isolated instances. Forestry Corporation is a repeat offender, with eight alleged major breaches since April 2020.
“Part of the problem is that the fines are too small to act as a deterrent,” Mr Gambian said. “A fine of $15,000 for a multi-million-dollar corporation is trivial. The government should increase the penalties to reflect the true harm illegal logging causes.” Forestry Corporation of NSW (FCNSW) has been fined $15,000 for allegedly failing to comply with a post bushfire condition imposed to protect critical habitat in a forest near Batemans Bay.
The Site Specific Operating Condition required FCNSW to permanently retain all hollow bearing trees. Hollow bearing trees are important to many native animals in the forest, including threatened species that are dependent on these trees for their survival. The Penalty Infringement Notice was issued for allegedly failing to comply in Compartment 58A in South Brooman State Forest.
In July 2020 the EPA issued FCNSW with a Stop Work Order to stop the harvesting of trees in part of the forest for 40 days, after an inspection found hollow bearing trees that were either damaged or felled. The penalty followed the resumption of logging in that area, after FCNSW were required to put in place additional checks to ensure they met the conditions.
$15,000 is the largest fine the EPA is able to issue under the legislation.
Penalty notices are one of the tools the EPA uses to achieve the best environmental or human health outcomes.