Land and Environment Court fines developers $53,000 for clearing threatened squirrel glider habitat


The NSW Land and Environment Court has imposed fines of $53,000 on developers for illegally clearing the habitat of the threatened squirrel glider, in a judgement welcomed by the NSW Labor Opposition.

The squirrel glider, now a vulnerable species.
Threatened: heavy fines imposed to protect the vulnerable squirrel glider.

The squirrel glider is listed as a vulnerable species under the NSW Threatened Species Conservation Act.

Lampo Pty Ltd, Bombala Investments Pty Ltd and Rinaldo Lani pleaded guilty to clearing 1,610 square metres of squirrel glider habitat at Forster and were fined $53,000 and ordered to engage a bush regenerator, ecologist and expert on the squirrel glider to prepare a remediation plan for the cleared site.

There are just 40 to 60 squirrel gliders left in the Forster area and there is a high possibility of their extinction over time.

"I welcome the Land and Environment Court's decision to fine the companies responsible for clearing the precious habitat of the threatened squirrel glider," Shadow Environment Minister, Luke Foley said.

"This ruling is a timely reminder that developers can't just clear land that is home to our threatened species."

In his ruling, Justice Lloyd of the NSW Land and Environment Court confirmed the land clearing would have a significant impact on the squirrel glider.

 "The defendants knew that the property was habitat of the squirrel glider, knew that it was classified as a threatened species and nevertheless authorised the clearing."

"They (the defendants) need to be taught a lesson which will, hopefully, discourage them from like conduct in the future."

 - Land and Environment Court judgement, 18 May 2012*

"Squirrel gliders make their dens in hollow trees that can take at least 100 years to develop. The clearing of the squirrel glider habitat is a significant blow for the species in Forster," Mr Foley said.

"I am particularly pleased the $53,000 in fines will be paid into the National Parks and Wildlife Fund to pay for the mapping and study of the squirrel glider population in the Booti Booti National Park and Forster area."