NSW EPA fines New South Wales Forestry Corp. AU$20,000 and AU$84,340 in legal costs after illegally felling hollow-bearing trees in Mogo State Forest; agency stressed that decrease in availability, variety of tree hollows lead to major loss of diversity

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December 28, 2023 (press release) –

Forestry Corporation of NSW (FCNSW) is required to pay more than $100,000 after illegally felling hollow bearing trees in Mogo State Forest on the South Coast in March 2020.

The sentence was handed down after FCNSW challenged one of three $15,000 penalty infringement notices issued by the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA), for breaching site-specific operating conditions following the damaging 2019/20 black summer bushfires.

Under these conditions, FCNSW was required to permanently retain all hollow-bearing trees to prevent the loss of habitat for hollow-dependent species.

Following the challenge, FCNSW was found guilty of the offence under the Forestry Act 2012 in Bega Local Court in November 2023. The Magistrate was satisfied all four trees had visible hollows before they were cut down.

The sentence was delivered in Batemans Bay Local Court yesterday, convicting FCNSW and ordering them to pay a fine of $20,000 and $84,340 to the EPA as legal costs.

EPA Executive Director of Regulatory Operations Jason Gordon welcomed the sentence and said the court’s decision supports the EPA’s position that the visibility of tree hollows must be assessed broadly, and requires scrutiny from several different angles.   

“All hollow-bearing trees, living or dead, are important because they provide vital habitat for endangered and native species,” Mr Gordon said.

“They can take decades to naturally form and provide a necessary refuge for animals from the weather and predators, as well as safe sites for roosting and breeding.

“Any decrease in the availability and variety of tree hollows can lead to a significant loss of species diversity and abundance.

“This outcome is a great result for the EPA and signifies the care needed when conducting forestry operations to comply with conditions and ensure homes for our wildlife are protected.”

In sentencing, the Magistrate said there’s no reason for a casual approach to environmental protection and the community views environmental offences as extremely serious.

The Magistrate required FCNSW to publicise the offence and the orders made against it in the Sydney Morning Herald and the Bay Post/ Moruya Examiner which would send a clear message of deterrence.

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