Forestry Corporation NSW fined over tree felling in koala habitat

By Tom Ravlic

June 20, 2022

Forestry Corporation NSW-logging
Forestry Corporation NSW has been fined $285,600 by the Land and Environment Court Tree. (AAP Image/Supplied by Forestry Corporation of NSW)

Forestry Corporation NSW has been fined $285,600 by the Land and Environment Court Tree for felling in an exclusion zone.

The court found the tree-felling in 2018 had caused harm to the koala habitat of a forest near Coffs Harbour.

The $285,600 judgement is comprised of a fine of $135,600 as well as $150,00 in legal and investigation costs to be paid to the NSW Environmental Protection Authority.

EPA executive director of regulatory operations Carmen Dwyer said forestry operations had a responsibility to protect the environment and they need to comply with laws on tree harvesting.

“Strict operating rules are in place to protect precious wildlife, such as the Koala Exclusion Zones, which are a critical part of preserving the habitat of koalas to ensure their survival in this forest,” Dwyer said.

“Disregarding the rules and harvesting trees in these areas can put animals under increased stress.”

Justice John Robson, who heard the case, found the company had breached the laws requiring it to ensure it did not damage the habitat of endangered or protected species.

“The felling of the large eucalyptus trees and the construction or operation of snig tracks were highly likely to have had an adverse impact by reducing the size and the quality of the habitat available to the breeding female and offspring,” Justice Robson said.

“As such, I accept the position adopted by the prosecutor and find that there has been actual harm.”

Justice Robson said the company had pleaded guilty to offences, and this needed to be recognised in sentencing.

“As Forestry Corporation pleaded guilty to each offence at the earliest opportunity, Forestry Corporation should receive a discount on sentence reflecting the full utilitarian value of the pleas,” Justice Robson said.

“In addition to matters considered later, I consider that the pleas of guilty are some evidence of remorse and an acceptance of responsibility.”


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