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July 5, 2022

EPA’s ‘official cautions’ confirm its ‘pathetic’ status: NEFA

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Habitat of the yellow bellied glider is under threat by the Forestry Corp's trashing of Cherry Tree State Forest. Photo Girraween NP website
Habitat of the yellow bellied glider is under threat by the Forestry Corp’s trashing of Cherry Tree State Forest. Photo Girraween NP website

A north coast environment group has lashed the Environment Protection Authority, which has issued NSW Forestry Corporation with not one cent in fines despite proof the corporation flouted its compliance obligations while felling trees at Cherry Tree State Forest, near Casino.

North East Forest Alliance (NEFA) co-ordinator and audit-author Dailan Pugh said that the EPA have identified 66 instances of non-compliance with logging laws, ‘though this belies the fact that a single ‘non-compliance’ can represent hundreds of actual breaches.’

‘From the EPA’s figures, some 325 ancient hollow-bearing trees were illegally logged, though the EPA only count this as one act of non-compliance,’ Mr Pugh said.

‘While this is the most comprehensive investigation of our complaints that the EPA have yet undertaken, they still failed to investigate numerous complaints, For example we identified that 26 vulnerable Onion Cedars had an illegal road constructed within their buffers, but the EPA only checked eight of them. Similarly of the 11 poorly drained and eroding tracks we reported the EPA only checked nine.

‘There were also numerous offences relating to koalas, yellow-bellied gliders and black-striped wallabies that the EPA confirmed but claim they couldn’t legally prove.

‘We have been finding similar breaches in all the audits we have been undertaking, year after year after year.

‘Yet the EPA’s only response is to issue 47 more “official cautions” and require yet more ‘action plans’. These pathetic responses have been proven to be useless. The Forestry Corporation continue to deny they do anything wrong and continue to go on illegally logging.

‘The EPA are still yet to complete their investigations into eight cases of illegal roading and logging of the Endangered Ecological Community Lowland Rainforest, and hundreds of cases of the Forestry Corporation recklessly damaging retained hollow-bearing trees.

‘They say that these serious offences are subject to an ongoing investigation. We can only hope that next time the punishment will match the crime’ Mr Pugh said.

EPA Forestry Branch director Michael Hood said the official caution ‘comes off the back of an ongoing compliance investigation by the EPA after receiving a report from a local environment group alleging a number of offences against Forestry Corporation NSW (FCNSW).’

‘We have made it explicitly clear to FCNSW that, given the thoroughness of the investigations, any failure to improve performance will result in the EPA escalating its response through additional, stronger enforcement actions.

‘We have undertaken significant field work, issued detailed legal notices and reviewed Forestry Corporation’s operational plans and activities as part of this investigation,’ Mr Hood said.

‘We are committed to ensuring that native forestry operations in NSW are undertaken in accordance with the rules so that they are ecologically sustainable.’

The community plays an important role in helping the EPA to monitor forestry activities. If you have a concern about illegal logging or knowledge of a particular incident, report it to the Environment Line on 131 555.

In January the EPA issued FCNSW with two penalty notices following the first-stage of investigations

 


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4 COMMENTS

  1. Worrying article. We still don’t learn from the past it seems. It is hard to believe that the NSW Forestry Corporation can get away with these infringements. Very disturbing news.

  2. has the EPA made any improvement in the systematic breaches by FC NSW in the period of
    the RFA………No , infact the situation has got way worse . So “,ongoing investigations” is just bureaucratic
    bulldust

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