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Forestry Corp pinged for logging environmentally significant forests after the Black Summer bushfires

Just days after being fined $135,000 for destroying koala habitat on the mid-north coast, Forestry Corporation now faces charges it illegally logged a Category 1 Environmentally Significant Area in the Yambulla State Forest after the Black Summer Bushfires. [1] 

“While the charges are yet to be proven, the fact the EPA launched this prosecution rings alarm bells,” Nature Conservation Council Chief Executive Chris Gambian said. 

“On Friday, Forestry Corp was fined for wiping out significant koala habitat. [2] On Monday they are being prosecute for logging forests that were ruled out of bounds after the fires.  

“What more evidence does the government need before it orders a comprehensive independent review of Forestry Corporation to ensure it acts lawfully and sustainably?” 

In this latest action, the EPA alleges Forestry Corp breached conditions imposed to aid the recovery of the Yambulla State Forest near Eden after the 2019-20 bushfires.  

The EPA says that between March and July 2020, Forestry Corp contractors logged 53 trees in a Category 1 Environmentally Significant Area in the Yambulla State Forest. 

EPA Acting Executive Director Regulatory Operations Greg Sheehy said the EPA imposed these Site-Specific Operating Conditions to protect areas in forests of environmental importance that were less affected by the fires. 

Mr Sheehy said in a statement released by the EPA: 

“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  

“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. 

 “These laws protect areas in our forests that may be home to important shelters and food resources for local wildlife or unique native plants.”  

Last Friday, Forestry Corp was fined $135,600 fine for destroying koala habitat and ordered to pay $150,000 of the EPA’s legal cost.  

As Forestry Corp is a company owned wholly by the NSW Government, the fines will ultimately be paid by NSW taxpayers.

REFERENCES  

[1] FCNSW in court for alleged breaches of 2019/20 bushfire harvest rules 

EPA, 20 June 2022 

[2] Fines will never replace critical koala habitat destroyed by Forestry Corporation, 16-6-22, NCC

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