Forestry Corporation of NSW fined $8,000 for licence breach
Last Thursday, the Forestry Corporation of NSW was convicted in the Land and Environment Court and fined $8,000 following a plea of guilty to an offence that occurred during logging operations in Glenbog State Forest, near Bemboka in the south east of NSW.
NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) Chief Environmental Regulator Mark Gifford, said the Forestry Corporation of NSW conducts logging operations throughout the state and should be aware of its responsibilities.
“Rocky outcrops are protected landscape features,” Mr Gifford said.
“The Forestry Corporation of NSW holds a licence under the Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995 that requires it to thoroughly search for rocky outcrops in order to protect the outcrops and surrounding trees from logging.”
“During logging operations in 2013, the Forestry Corporation of NSW failed to thoroughly search for a rocky outcrop in Compartment 2330 of Glenbog State Forest and as a result the outcrop was not identified or protected. Up to 52 trees were felled at the location and there was minor machinery damage caused to the outcrops themselves,” Mr Gifford said.
The EPA became aware of the incident following a report by a volunteer organisation known as South East Forest Rescue.
The EPA then carried out a thorough investigation, including field inspections, issuing statutory notices and conducting interviews.
“While the rocky outcrop area did not contain any known threatened flora species the features of the affected area afford unique habitat refuges and need to be identified and protected from logging,” Mr Gifford said.
“The Forestry Corporation of NSW had management and control over the logging operations. The Court’s decision is a clear message to the Forestry Corporation of NSW that it must not neglect its responsibilities to search for rocky outcrops in the field before logging starts.”
Mr Gifford said the EPA places the upmost importance on protecting NSW’s many native forests by requiring that logging operations are conducted in an ecologically sustainable way.
“The EPA maintains an active native forestry compliance program to help ensure compliance with licence conditions and promote continuous improvement in environmental performance,” Mr Gifford said.
“Protection measures will be further improved through upcoming NSW forestry regulatory reforms that will provide a modern legal and environmental framework to protect our native forests and endangered species.”