Paltry fine for illegal logging of koala habitat in state forest

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Forests NSW has only been fined a paltry $900 despite being found to have engaged in illegal logging of koala habitats in the Royal Camp State Forest near Casino.

The illegal logging by Forests NSW was discovered by Shadow Environment Minister Luke Foley and representatives of the North East Forest Alliance during an inspection last August.

Despite being found guilty of logging koala habitat in three separate locations, the fines imposed on Forests NSW added up to only $900.

“We have to make a decision as a society. Do we want koalas to continue to live freely in the wild in NSW, or are we so indifferent to their plight that the only place they will be in a few years is in captivity?” Mr Foley said.

“As a state we should be doing everything we can to protect our dwindling population of koalas.
Instead, Forests NSW are being handed fines of only $900 despite breaching environmental laws.

“I visited the Royal Camp State Forest in August last year with members of the North East Forest Alliance to investigate concerns that logging was occurring illegally in koala high use areas.

“I saw for myself the evidence of koala activity, including scats and scratch marks on trees amongst the recent logging.

“It was only after our visit to this forest and in response to complaints from myself and environmentalists that logging was halted.

“We have an Environment Minister in Robyn Parker who claims ‘logging protects koalas’. A slap on the wrist for the logging of koala habitats is no disincentive to those engaging in illegal logging to stop anytime in the future.”

Mr Foley 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."