EPA prosecutes Forestry Corp over ’unacceptable’ breaches
THE EPA is taking Forestry Corporation of NSW to court for allegedly felling trees in koala exclusion zones in a state forest inland of Coffs Harbour back in 2018.
The EPA has commenced five prosecutions in the Land and Environment Court, claiming that Forestry Corporation's contractors allegedly breached license requirements and felled trees in exclusion zones and protected areas in Wild Cattle Creek State Forest.
EPA Acting Chief Executive Officer Jacqueline Moore said it was "unacceptable" to put vulnerable species in danger by breaking the rules.
"We have strict procedures in place to protect wildlife, and if they are disregarded it can put these animals under threat," Ms Moore said.
"In this instance, after a long investigation process that involved interviews and a consultation process with Forestry Corporation, the EPA has decided that these actions warrant prosecution.
"We're sending a strong message that laws created to protect the environment, and in particular vulnerable species like the koala, must be adhered to."
The EPA alleges the contractors felled trees and operated snig tracks within a koala high use exclusion zone located within Compartment 539 of the forest.
Snig tracks are tracks created by harvesting machinery.
The EPA further alleges the contractors felled trees in protected rainforest areas and an exclusion zone around warm temperate rainforest, located in Compartments 539 and 540 of the forest, in breach of Forestry Corporation's licence.
The two offences relating to koala exclusion zones carry a maximum penalty of $440,000 each, while the other three carry a maximum penalty of $110,000 each.
This action follows a Stop Work Order issued by the EPA to Forestry Corporation for the felling of two protected giant trees in Wild Cattle Creek State Forest in July 2020.