The North East Forest Alliance has welcomed the Environment Protection Authority’s (EPA’s) belated prosecution of the Forestry Corporation for illegally logging rainforest, rainforest buffers and Koala High Use Areas in Wild Cattle Creek State Forest.
NEFA spokesperson Dailan Pugh said this is the first time since the North East Regional Forest Agreement was signed 20 years ago that the EPA have prosecuted the Forestry Corporation for breaches of their Threatened Species Licence in north-east NSW.
‘This follows the EPA issuing their first Stop Work Order in 20 years, after catching the Forestry Corporation illegally logging two giant trees in Wild Cattle Creek in July this year.
In the same area NEFA subsequently found another two giant trees cut down and numerous others damaged.
‘After 20 years of getting away with murder the Forestry Corporation is finally being held to account. Their illegal activities have flourished under lax regulation for far too long, we can only hope that by finally holding them to account that they will start obeying the law.
Too late for the koala
Mr Pugh said this has unfortunately come too late for the koala as the requirement to protect Koala High Use Areas was abandoned in 2018 because the Forestry Corporation refused to do the thorough surveys required to identify them and the EPA refused to make them.
‘Taking legal action now over one of the few Koala High Use Areas identified is like shutting the door after the horse has bolted.
‘Both the logging now being prosecuted and the area where the giant trees were illegally felled this year, are part of the priority areas the Department of Planning Industry and Environment identified in 2019 for protection as the Great Koala National Park to “provide a feasible and strategic balance between increasing protections for koalas, while minimising impact to forestry operations”.
‘It is past time to stop logging these know Koala hotspots if we want Koalas to survive’ said Mr Pugh.