FCNSW in court for alleged breaches of 2019/20 bushfire harvest rules
The NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) has launched a prosecution alleging Forestry Corporation of NSW (FCNSW) breached conditions imposed to aid the recovery of the Yambulla State Forest, near Eden after the 2019/20 bushfires.
The NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) has launched a prosecution alleging Forestry Corporation of NSW (FCNSW) breached conditions imposed to aid the recovery of the Yambulla State Forest, near Eden after the 2019/20 bushfires. The EPA alleges more than 50 trees were cut down in an “unburned” and “partially burned” environmentally significant areas.
The Authority alleges that between March and July 2020, FCNSW’s contractors carried out harvesting operations, including operating machinery and cutting and removing 53 trees in a Category 1 Environmentally Significant Area in the Yambulla State Forest.
These actions if proven, would contravene the conditions of forestry rules, the Coastal Integrated Forestry Operations Approval, and the Site-Specific Operating Conditions issued by the EPA after the 2019/20 bushfires.
EPA Acting Executive Director Regulatory Operations Greg Sheehy said the EPA imposed these Site-Specific Operating Conditions to protect areas in forests across NSW, of environmental importance, that were less affected by the fires.
“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,” Mr Sheehy said.
“These conditions were imposed to prevent FCNSW harvesting trees in areas considered environmentally significant that were less damaged or completely untouched by the fires.
“The additional protections, applied to certain forests in NSW were designed to help wildlife and biodiversity recover in key regions,” Mr Sheehy said.
The EPA alleges the breach occurred because FCNSW failed to mark the area as off-limits in the operational map used for the harvest.
It alleges the map used by FCNSW’s contractors did not show two known Environmentally Significant Areas, one being a “partially burned area” and the other being the “unburned area”.
“Mapping activities are a legal requirement and must be carried out correctly by forestry operators,” Mr Sheehy said.
“These laws protect areas in our forests that may be home to important shelters and food resources for local wildlife or unique native plants.”
Prosecution is one of the tools the EPA uses to achieve the best environmental or human health outcomes. Our regulatory approach includes a wide variety of options. Find out more about them here https://www.epa.nsw.gov.au/about-us/publications-and-reports/regulatory-strategy.