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Fines don't faze Forestry Corp's lust for logging

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Forestry Corporation of NSW has faced court for various logging offences (Image by Yusuf Onuk | Unsplash)

The EPA is urging the Government to order an independent review of Forestry Corporation NSW, which is facing new allegations after having just been fined for wiping out significant koala habitat, writes James Tremain.

JUST DAYS after being fined for destroying koala habitat on the Mid North Coast, Forestry Corporation of New South Wales (FCNSW) now faces charges it allegedly committed illegal logging in the Yambulla State Forest after the Black Summer Bushfires

NSW's Environment Protection Authority (EPA) says that between March and July 2020, FCNSW contractors logged 53 trees in a "category 1 environmentally significant area" in the Yambulla State Forest. The EPA alleges FCNSW breached conditions imposed to aid the recovery of the Yambulla State Forest near Eden after the 2019-20 bushfires.

EPA Director Major Compliance and Investigations Greg Sheehy said the EPA imposed these site-specific operating conditions to protect areas in forests of environmental importance that were less affected by the fires. 

Sheehy explained:

Bushland along our South Coast was severely damaged by the devastating fires and the EPA established additional protections for bushfire-affected forests like the Yambulla State Forest in order to limit further harm. These conditions were imposed to prevent FCNSW harvesting trees in areas considered environmentally significant that were less damaged or completely untouched by the fires.

Added Sheehy:

'The additional protections, applied to certain forests in NSW, were designed to help wildlife and biodiversity recover in key regions... These laws protect areas in our forests that may be home to important shelters and food resources for local wildlife or unique native plants.' 

Last Friday, FCNSW was fined $135,600 for destroying koala habitat and ordered to pay $150,000 of the EPA’s legal costs.  

Nature Conservation Council Chief Executive Chris Gambian said that while the new allegations are yet to be proven, the fact the EPA launched the prosecution rings alarm bells.

Stated Gambien:

On Friday, Forestry Corp [FCNSW] was fined for wiping out significant koala habitat. On Monday, they are being prosecuted for logging forests that were ruled out of bounds after the fires. What more evidence does the Government need before it orders a comprehensive independent review of Forestry Corporation to ensure it acts lawfully and sustainably?

James Tremain is the senior media adviser of NSW's Nature Conservation Council.

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