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EPA fines NSW Forestry

The NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) has issued two penalty notices to Forestry Corporation of NSW (FCNSW) for harming a threatened species during harvesting operations in northern NSW last year. Source: The Northern Star

In March 2015 the EPA received a report from a local environment group alleging that FCNSW had damaged a number of threatened onion cedar trees, during the construction of a snig (haulage) track in Cherry Tree State Forest, near Casino.

The EPA carried out an investigation, which found that FCNSW had failed to identify the plants during surveys and assessments in both a rainforest area and an adjacent harvest area.

As they were not identified, the individual plants were not protected during the construction of the snig track and a total of eight onion cedar trees were harmed.

EPA Chief Environmental Regulator, Mark Gifford said under the conditions of its Threatened Species Licence, FCNSW is required to survey and assess the impacts of harvesting activities on threatened species when proposing to construct a snig track through rainforest.

“If any threatened species are identified, approval must be sought from the EPA before construction,” he said. “This was not done.

“FCNSW is also required to thoroughly search the harvesting area for threatened plants prior to undertaking forestry activities.

“FCNSW has a responsibility to comply with the conditions of its licence and threated species legislation, to protect threatened species and their habitat from activities associated with timber harvesting.”

FCNSW was fined $1000 for each of the two offences. This is the maximum penalty available to the EPA under current legislation.

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