EPA fines NSW Forestry Corporation again.

The Land and Environment Court ordered New South Wales Forestry Corporation (FCNSW) to pay a $230,000 fine for carrying out unlawful forestry activities in an exclusion zone designated for various types of subterranean bats living in the Dampier State Forest on the NSW South Coast. 

In another ruling, the state-owned forestry corporation was also ordered to audit its operations and demonstrate that all contractors clearly understand the “level of experience and competency required to comply with the law.”

The penalties followed another round of fines incurred by FCNSW  for environmental breaches at Wild Cattle Creek Forest near Coffs Harbour on the North Coast. The latest fine was the second significant penalty ruled against the Corporation, bringing the liabilities to more than $500,000 for the month,

Despite the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) claiming that FCNSW has a history of “non-compliance,” the government agency denied any claims of systemic malpractice, with the penalties only relating to the small number of illegally-harvested native trees in regrowth forests already harvested for timber.

According to senior compliance manager Linda Broekman, FCNSW  manages over two million hectares across the State with few incidents occurring. Yet, the latest breach saw FCNSW contractors using new electronic mapping without the proper supervision and removing trees from a protected area surrounding a disused mine shaft.

In an official statement, Ms Broekman confirmed that the FCNSW has since employed more people on the ground to oversee compliance and that more trees will “be set aside” to counter the effects of deforestation. However, the immediate issue regarding Dampier State Forest’s harvested woodlands remains dire, including the destroyed tree bat roosts and other critical habitats for species.

Much of the illegal logging activity across the state took place at the tail-end of the Black Summer megafires. And the fines — penalties footed by NSW taxpayers — are mere pocket change for corporations capitalising on the legislative loopholes in the mult-billion logging industry. 

Please view https://www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/about-us/publications/pdi/2020/key-export-market

Why is the EPA Act ineffective?

RFA.s are awarded statutory effect under the [a] Commonwealth Regional Forest Agreements Act 2002 [RFA Act]. RFA practices undergo reviews every five years. And that is the reason why we must learn and argue the legislation and call for immediate change.

1. The RFA process enables all forestry activities to be undertaken in a region without an environmental impact assessment for every individual action. Thus, FCNSW contractors are exempt from seeking environmental approval under [b] Part 3 of the Act —  which sets the framework for unaccountable practices. 

References | Important Reading:

2. [a] EPA NSW has listed its bushfire-affected forestry operations. [b] Please view Coastal Integrated Forestry Operation Approval (IFOA)which impacts the South and North Coast regions. 

** Image of the South Coast and the forest north of Tilba near Bodalla.


Like much of Southern and Eastern Australia, the Southern Highlands saw two infernos ravage our communities and pristine bushland during the Black Summer season of 2020. Tragically, lives were lost; homes, outbuildings and habitats were destroyed, and vast wildlife, including koalas, kangaroos, wombats and wallabies, either perished or struggled to survive in the aftermath. 

Despite the travesties, people across Australia and around the globe responded in many extraordinary ways.

We worked with Woolworths and Harris Farm management in Bowral and established morning and evening food stations for five weeks near drought-ravaged paddocks and the smouldering bush tracks that traced reserves and state parks.

We saw a scene of total devastation. Here’s what our long-time team member, Jennifer Campbell said of Werai State Forest.

The infernos in some parts of Werai State Forest were so intense that no form of life remained in the aftermath. It was a scene of total devastation. The sight of charred trees and burnt-out burrows. The smell of the smouldering ash. And the eerie stillness of the bush — always the haunting silence. No matter where I went, I looked straight into the face of a ghost forest. 

View:  Jennifer’s on-location images of Werai State Forest in the aftermath of the fires in our gallery.

Woolworths Bowral additionally provided us with feed containers, water bottles, water bowls, pillowcases, gloves, blankets, a medical kit and feather dusters [in the event of finding injured birds]. Other generous community supporters sent us bat wraps, knitted pouches for joeys and myriad first aid supplies.

There was no stockpiling. The donated items were utilised swiftly and precisely in the field and at our sanctuary.

We also sent several large boxes of fruit to the Shoalhaven Bat Clinic in Bomaderry for the hundreds of bats that were in rehabilitation. 

Thanks to everyone for the community spirit, care and dedication — especially the region’s local vets and firefighters. Also, to Woolworths, Harris Farm and other volunteers, including the generous community members. And Jennifer, who organised, collected and distributed the food daily in the field.

Similarly, there was never a shortage of field rescue call-outs in conjunction with other wildlife rescue operators. Thank you to all!

Woody and Kerstin.


NOTE TO THE COMMUNITY |  Please view this vital link for further information on feeding wildlife.