The NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) has issued a total of $33,000 in fines to a private native forestry consultant, a logging contractor and two landholders, for unauthorised private native forestry operations on three adjoining properties at Forbes River, near Mount Seaview.
The EPA commenced an investigation following a call to the EPA’s Environment Line about alleged illegal native vegetation clearing that took place between July and October 2016.
It was discovered that the logging had occurred well after the expiry of Private Native Forestry (PNF) approvals, and without a valid Forest Operation Plan. One property was logged without the knowledge or approval of the landowner – effectively stealing the timber.
EPA Director Forestry Michael Hood said that while most private forestry operations are done in accordance with the rules, the EPA will continue to come down strongly on those in flagrant breach of forestry regulations.
“This was a complex, long and detailed investigation involving multiple landowners and contractors. The logging consultant and contractor were both experienced in the native forestry industry and were aware of their legal obligations to operate under a valid PNF Plan and Forestry Operation Plan,” Mr Hood said.
“The landholders had been informed about the expiry of their approvals, and could have contacted the EPA if they had any concerns about the validity of harvesting operations.
“Their actions undermine native forest operators who operate legally within the NSW,” he added.
“The NSW community can play an important role in helping the EPA to protect forests and vulnerable species. If you have a concern about illegal logging or knowledge of a particular incident, please report it to the Environment Line on 131 555.”
Environment Line reports are confidential and can be made 24 hours a day, seven days a week.