Forestry Corporation of NSW has apologised for the accidental removal of 17 trees from an area that should have been set aside for protection in Coopernook State Forest during a forestry operation two years ago in 2021 and welcomes the suite of projects it will deliver as part of the Enforceable Undertaking developed in conjunction with the EPA to compensate for the error. Source: Timberbiz, Photo EPA
General Manager Hardwood Forests, Daniel Tuan, said compliance with the environmental regulations is of paramount importance.
“We are disappointed that we did not comply on this occasion, and we are sorry.”
“When we identified the error, we immediately self-reported it to the EPA. We have worked collaboratively with the EPA over the past 12 months to identify investments that will deliver tangible environmental and community benefits to compensate for the damage this operation caused.”
The incident occurred when one of Forestry Corporation’s contractors mistakenly harvested the trees in a riparian exclusion zone in December 2021, allegedly breaching the Forestry Act 2012. The alleged breaches were self-reported to the EPA by Forestry Corporation.
Forestry Corporation of NSW must pay $500,000 towards four environmental projects in a legally binding Enforceable Undertaking with the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA).
EPA Director Operations Steve Orr said adherence to stringent rules regarding forestry operations is crucial.
“These trees were in a protected riparian exclusion zone, close to streams, so removing them had the potential to destabilise the soil and cause potential harm to the aquatic system as well as reduce available habitat for fauna,” Mr Orr said.
The Enforceable Undertaking (EU) requires Forestry Corporation to fund four projects that will deliver benefits to the environment, the local community, and improve its operations including:
- $150,000 to develop and test an industry-first in-cab Boundary Warning Prototype to improve forestry operational boundary management.
- $150,000 to improve Forestry Corporation’s corporate website to better inform external stakeholders about its forestry operations.
- $100,000 to establish and maintain a nature-themed playground at the Forest Camping Ground in Coopernook State Forest that will cater for an expanded visitor demographic.
- $100,000 to establish, monitor and maintain breeding sites for threatened frog species in the Olney State Forest.
- Forestry Corporation has also agreed to pay the EPA’s legal and investigative costs of $37,802.94, as well as the EPA’s reasonable costs of monitoring future compliance with the EU.
These projects will be delivered over the next 12 months and progress will be reported regularly to the EPA.
In the interim, Forestry Corporation continues to review its systems, processes and training to ensure it can fully implement the strict environmental rules that apply in forestry operations.