Forestry Corp to pay $500,000 after removal of trees at Coopernook State Forest

Forestry Corporation of NSW must pay $500,000 towards four environmental projects in a legally binding Enforceable Undertaking with the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) following the alleged illegal harvesting of 17 protected trees in Coopernook State Forest on the NSW mid-North Coast.

The incident occurred when one of Forestry Corporation’s contractors mistakenly harvested the trees in a riparian exclusion zone in December 2021, allegedly breaching the Forestry Act 2012. The alleged breaches were self-reported to the EPA by Forestry Corporation.

EPA Director Operations Steve Orr said adherence to stringent rules regarding forestry operations is crucial.

“These trees were in a protected riparian exclusion zone, close to streams, so removing them had the potential to destabilise the soil and cause potential harm to the aquatic system as well as reduce available habitat for fauna,” Mr Orr said.

“Harvesting operations in State Forests are governed by strict rules to protect vegetation, threatened species and ecosystems.

“The EPA takes any non-compliances very seriously and won’t hesitate to take appropriate action when breaches are detected,” he said.

The Enforceable Undertaking (EU) requires Forestry Corporation to fund four projects that will deliver benefits to the environment, the local community, and improve its operations including:

  • $150,000 to develop and test an industry-first in-cab Boundary Warning Prototype to improve forestry operational boundary management.
  • $150,000 to improve Forestry Corporation’s corporate website to better inform external stakeholders about its forestry operations.
  • $100,000 to establish and maintain a nature-themed playground at the Forest Camping Ground in Coopernook State Forest that will cater for an expanded visitor demographic.
  • $100,000 to establish, monitor and maintain breeding sites for threatened frog species in the Olney State Forest.
  • Forestry Corporation has also agreed to pay the EPA’s legal and investigative costs of $37,802.94, as well as the EPA’s reasonable costs of monitoring future compliance with the EU.

Enforceable Undertakings are one of the tools the EPA uses to achieve the best environmental or human health outcomes. Find out more about our regulatory approaches here.