Forestry Corporation fined for failing to mark out a prohibited logging zone

The NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) has fined Forestry Corporation of NSW (FCNSW) for allegedly failing to mark up a protected zone during a logging operation on the NSW Central Coast.

EPA officers identified the alleged licence breach while inspecting a harvest site in Olney State Forest.

FCNSW logged the compartment in the forest between January 2019 and March 2020.

An EPA post-harvest site inspection in April 2020 found FCNSW had failed to mark a riparian exclusion zone boundary, contrary to the requirements of the Integrated Forestry Operations Approval held by FCNSW.

EPA Executive Director of Regional Operations Carmen Dwyer said riparian zones were important areas directly adjacent to streams and waterways.

“Riparian zones are environmentally sensitive areas which must be marked up prior to an operation commencing, so they are identifiable and protected from logging operations,” Ms Dwyer said.

“These zones are vital to protect our waterways, animal habitat and forest biodiversity.

“The degradation or removal of riparian vegetation can impact on aquatic life by polluting streams, eroding stream banks, removing shade and natural water filters, and allowing exotic species to flourish.”

The alleged failure to mark the exclusion zone resulted in three mature trees being felled and 0.23 hectares of riparian vegetation removed to create a snig transport track. Surrounding vegetation in the area was also disturbed during the logging.

The EPA has issued FCNSW with a $15,000 penalty for the breach.

Ms Dwyer said the EPA takes forestry offences seriously and investigates all alleged breaches.

“The EPA actively monitors forestry operations at all stages of logging operations – pre, post and during harvesting,” Ms Dwyer said.

“As the state’s environmental regulator, we are focused on ensuring forestry operations adhere to the standards required and will not hesitate to take action if breaches are identified.”

Penalty notices are one of a number of tools the EPA can use to achieve environmental compliance including formal warnings, official cautions, licence conditions, notices and directions and prosecutions.

For more information about the EPA’s regulatory tools, see the EPA Compliance Policy on the EPA website.