Mapping errors in Dampier State Forest near Bodalla, have cost Forestry Corporation of NSW (FCNSW) $230,000 after the Land and Environment Court convicted FCNSW for breaching its approval and carrying out unlawful forestry activities in an exclusion zone.
This follows FCNSW’s convictions earlier this month for four breaches at Wild Cattle Creek State Forest and a $15,000 fine for allegedly breaching conditions in South Brooman State Forest. Together, fines and costs from these incidents have cost FCNSW more than $530,000.
The Corporation is also facing another prosecution for alleged activities in Yambulla State Forest, near Eden.
In Dampier State Forest, FCNSW failed to mark the boundary of an environmentally sensitive area, a potential bat roost for the Eastern Horseshoe Bat, during logging activities in May 2019. It was convicted of three offences and fined a total of $230,00 for the breaches.
The Court ordered FCNSW to pay $45,000 of the total penalty to the Australasian Bat Society for research into the impacts of wildfire on a key roost in the area.
EPA Acting Executive Director Regulatory Operations Regional Greg Sheehy said the EPA will continue to hold FCNSW to account for non-compliant activities.
“FCNSW must have the correct procedures in place to ensure all exclusion zones remain untouched.
“Potential subterranean bat roosts in the Dampier State Forest may be critical habitat for various types of subterranean bat living in the forest. While the Eastern Horseshoe Bat is not threatened, the population is thought to have declined over the past few decades in parts of NSW. It’s important they have roosts and areas to forage.
“These activities by FCNSW had the potential to cause harm to any Eastern Horseshoe Bats roosting in the area and the EPA will continue to enforce the law when breaches are found,” Mr Sheehy said.
FCNSW has also been ordered to undertake an audit of its field mapping and marking activities including understanding the level of experience and competency required to comply with the law. Any recommendations arising from the audit around training must be followed.
The Court also ordered FCNSW to pay the EPA’s investigation costs of $8,000.
Prosecutions are one of the tools the EPA uses to achieve the best environmental or human health outcomes. Our regulatory approach includes a wide variety of options.