‘Serious’ alleged logging breaches uncovered by EPA
FORESTRY Corporation has been issued a Stop Work Order to cease logging in state forest inland of Coffs, after investigations by the EPA revealed "serious" alleged breaches.
The EPA inspected operations in three compartments at Wild Cattle Creek State Forest on July 9, allegedly discovering that two giant trees - which are protected under the Coastal Integrated Forestry Operations Approval (IFOA) - had been felled.
A giant tree is identified as having a stump diameter of over 140cm.
"To maintain biodiversity in the forest, the Coastal IFOA rules require loggers to identify giant trees and ensure they are protected and not logged," Carmen Dwyer, EPA Executive Director Regulatory Operations said.
"Any trees except Blackbutt and Alpine Ash with a diameter of more than 140cm are defined as giant trees and must be retained."
The Stop Work Order issued today will ensure that no further tree harvesting will take place in the area where the trees were felled for over 40 days, or until the EPA is "confident" Forestry Corporation will comply with the Coastal IFOA conditions to protect giant trees.
This is the first time the EPA has issued Forestry Corporation with an order under the new laws which came into effect in 2018.
"These two old, giant trees have provided significant habitat and biodiversity value and are irreplaceable. Their removal points to serious failures in the planning and identification of trees that must be retained in the forest," Ms Dwyer said
"These are serious allegations and strong action is required to prevent any further harm to giant or other protected trees which help maintain biodiversity and provide habitat for threatened species like koalas."
This comes after Forestry Corporation was recently issued two Penalty Notice totalling $2,200 for failing to correctly identify protections zones for trees around streams, and for felling four trees within those protected zones in the Orara East State Forest.
"The EPA continues to closely monitor forestry operations despite the current COVID-19 restrictions, to ensure compliance with the regulations," Ms Dwyer said.
"The community can be confident that any alleged noncompliance during forestry operations will be investigated by the EPA and action taken if the evidence confirms a breach."