Conservationists praise EPA’s prosecution of Forestry Corp

CONSERVATIONISTS have praised NSW EPA for launching prosecutions against Forestry Corporation for allegedly felling trees in protected koala habitat.

The North East Forest Alliance (NEFA) welcomed the news which broke on Thursday that the EPA is taking Forestry Corp to court over the alleged breaches which occurred in 2018 at Wild Cattle State Forest, inland of Coffs Harbour.

The offences – which could cost Forestry Corp over $1 million in fines – include allegations that contractors felled trees and operated snig tracks within a koala high use exclusion zone.

It is further alleged that contractors felled trees in protected rainforest areas and in an exclusion zone around warm temperate rainforest.

NEFA spokesperson Dailin Pugh pointed out that the prosecutions come after the EPA issued a Stop Work Order over the felling of two protected giant trees in Wild Cattle Creek State Forest in July 2020.

“It is past time to stop logging these known koala hotspots if we want koalas to survive,” he said.

One of the two trees designated as protected giant trees that were found felled in the Wild Cattle Creek State Forest in July this year.

Forestry Corporation has since issued a statement, saying it would not comment on the merits of the prosecution as the matter was before the courts.

“During this renewable timber harvesting operation 21 hectares of koala habitat was set aside, which was three times what was required under the ruleset, protecting an additional 6,000 trees, and the EPA allegations relate to nine trees,” a spokesperson said.

“Forestry Corporation recognises the importance of complying with the strict environmental regulations that apply to forestry operations and carried out a thorough investigation into the circumstances that led to these alleged offences.”

The cases are listed for a directions hearing at the Land and Environment Court in Sydney on October 16.

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