Logging of koala habitat halted after environmentalists and Shadow Minister visit

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The illegal logging of koala habitat by Forests NSW in the Royal Camp State Forest near Casino has been halted following inspections by local environmentalists and Shadow Environment Minister, Luke Foley.

"I visited the Royal Camp State Forest two weeks ago with representatives of the North East Forests Alliance and observed numerous breaches of forestry prescriptions," Mr Foley said.

"Following further inspection and complaints by the North East Forests Alliance, the illegal logging of koala habitat has been halted this week.

"Forests NSW are prohibited from logging in high use koala areas, but it was obvious they were failing in their legal obligations to protect a minimum number of koala feed trees and to undertake pre-logging surveys to identify and protect high use koala areas.

"We observed koala scratch marks on tree trunks in an area recently logged by Forests NSW, and koala scats next to trees and stumps.

"While I welcome the fact that logging has been stopped in the last few days, this wouldn’t have occurred without the inspections, and the follow up complaints by the North East Forests Alliance.

"Environment Minister Robyn Parker and the Environment Protection Authority (EPA) have failed to stop illegal logging of North Coast koala habitats – in the Boambee State Forest near Coffs Harbour last year and now in the Royal Camp State Forest."

Mr Foley also repeated his call for the O'Farrell Government to support his private members bill to increase the penalties for illegal forestry activities.

"My bill amends the National Parks and Wildlife Act to increase maximum penalties to $220,000, or two years imprisonment, or both for environmental offences committed in the course of carrying out of forestry operations," he said.

"Increasing penalties by tenfold will help address the exceedingly low penalties for illegal forestry operations and the forestry record on complying with environmental laws.

"The penalty for illegal forestry operations is currently $22,000, which is significantly lower than penalties in other NSW environmental legislation.

"By comparison, the maximum penalties for polluting a waterway, illegal land clearing and breaching the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act are all $1.1 million."