Slap on wrist for illegal logging

The Department of Environment and Climate Change (DECC) has issued fines totalling $1200 to Forests NSW for a series of breaches of their license conditions to log in Yabbra State Forest.

But forest activist Dailan Pugh said the fines were “grossly inadequate for trashing 1.7 hectares of rainforest, two wetlands and cutting down hundreds of feed trees that were required to be retained for threatened species.”

“In the late 90s State Forests were regularly found to be in breach of the logging prescriptions, and here we are a decade later and they are still doing it. DECC are responsible for making Forests abide and they have obviously failed,” Dailan said.

The four penalty infringement notices that were issued relate to logging in a mapped rainforest area, failing to protect a threatened species (the yellow bellied glider) by felling hundreds of required feed trees, felling trees in a wetland exclusion zone and for machinery entering a wetland exclusion zone. A fine of $300 was issued for each breach.

There was also a letter to Forests NSW warning that they had not identified the habitat of the Richmond Range Frog, not adequately marked exclusion zones and habitat trees.

“The assessment NEFA (North East Forest Alliance) did was only very small, a day and a half in one area. I have no doubt breaches are occurring all the time and DECC are not bringing Forests NSW to account. We are losing threatened species because of DECC’s inaction and because Forests are willing to regularly breach their licence requirements. Since the Integrated Forest Operation Approval was issued 1998, NSW Forests have not been prosecuted for a single beach of their operating licence conditions. This is a clear case of where they should have been prosecuted and weren’t.”

Dailan said he will now write to the NSW Environment Minister Frank Sartor.

“We want to see meaningful and urgent action to stop Forests NSW repeating similar actions in logging operations all over North East NSW... DECC’s superficial assessment of our complaints and the token slap on the wrist are unlikely to have much effect. Forests NSW make more money out of selling the illegally felled trees than they pay in fines.”

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