GLENREAGH company Coffs Harbour Hardwoods Sales P/L (CHH) was fined $85,000 and ordered to pay $26,000 costs in the Land and Environment Court after pleading guilty to damaging a local nature reserve and damaging threatened species.
The penalties follow an incident where a bulldozer damaged Jaaningga Nature Reserve, near Urunga, while CHH was conducting logging operations on a neighbouring property in August 2010.
The Court heard that although Coffs Harbour Hardwoods was aware there was public land neighbouring the private property, they did not make a proper attempt to find out where the boundary was.
Instead a CHH employee drove a bulldozer through the Reserve looking for a fence line.
As a result he cleared 4000 square metres right back to bare earth cutting a series of trails through the Nature Reserve.
CCH also admitted that sedimentation controls required to mitigate erosion were not put in place in the Nature Reserve.
The Court found that Coffs Harbour Hardwoods' first incursion into the Reserve was negligent but that their later use of one of the trails to haul logs was deliberate as, every day for a fortnight, they were passing a large National Parks and Wildlife sign.
National Parks and Wildlife Service acting head Bob Conroy said it is important that people undertaking logging or clearing operations ensure they know exactly where the their boundaries are.
"The Court's decision shows failure to do so can prove very costly," Mr Conroy said.
"The logging operation has impacted on threatened species within the Park.
"CCH admitted the work damaged or killed 30 native species, including some regarded as rare or threatened along with shrubs and native grasses.
"Jaaningga Nature was established in 1999 to protect an endangered wattle, Acacia chrysotricha, commonly known as 'Newry Golden Wattle'.
"At least 21 individual Newry Golden Wattles were damaged by the bulldozer and although there is some sign of regeneration in some of the damaged plants, the damage to at least 17 plants, many of them mature trees, seems to be terminal."