EPA launches another FCNSW prosecution for alleged forestry breaches

The NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) has launched its second prosecution this year against Forestry Corporation of NSW (FCNSW) for allegedly failing to retain habitat for local wildlife, by felling giant and hollow-bearing trees in Wild Cattle Creek State Forest, near Coffs Harbour.

The Authority alleges nine breaches occurred as a result of forestry operations in 2020 including the failure of FCNSW to retain six giant trees and seven hollow bearing trees.

In addition, the EPA alleges FCNSW failed to ensure harvesting debris did not accumulate within five metres of the base of a retained tree. Such debris can be a fire hazard.  

EPA Acting Executive Director Regulatory Operations Cate Woods said protection of giant trees and hollow bearing trees was important because they can provide significant habitat and biodiversity value for threatened species like the koala.

“Wild Cattle Creek State Forest is home to koalas that rely on critical habitat like giant and hollow bearing trees. There are strict forestry rules in place to protect these trees and preserve habitat that offers important shelter and food to local wildlife.

“All forestry operations in coastal areas must comply with the Coastal Integrated Forestry Operations Approvals, which contain strict operating rules that must be adhered to.

“Stringent procedures must be in place to ensure breaches do not occur. Harvest plans must be clearly defined and habitat trees such as giant trees and hollowing bearing trees must be clearly marked. Non-compliance will not be tolerated, and the EPA will thoroughly investigate alleged breaches of the rules and hold forestry operators to account.”  

Each breach carries a maximum penalty of $2,000,000.

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.