NSW Greens Forests spokesperson, Dawn Walker has moved to introduce legislation to restore the public’s ability to enforce forestry regulations following devastating breaches of forestry operations impacting threatened species and sensitive habitats.
“Individuals and community organisations lost the right to prosecute breaches of forestry laws in 1998 and the NSW Government left sole responsibility for ensuring forestry laws are upheld to an under-resourced Environment Protection Authority (EPA)” said Dawn Walker.
“Despite this, the EPA has only brought a pathetic total of five prosecutions against NSW Forestry Corporation since 1998, resulting in fines as small as $5,600.
“This culture of non-compliance in our public forests has resulted in a proliferation of reckless and well-documented breaches of forestry laws by NSW Forestry Corporation and their contractors’, including the felling of marked habitat trees, bulldozing of wombat burrows and blatant disregard for buffer zones designed to protect rocky outcrops, endangered species and waterways.
“During 2011/12 alone, NSW Forestry Corporation breached its licences 634 times at 39 sites. Yet, the EPA only issued a paltry 17 warning letters and 10 infringement notices.*
“After visiting State Forests from Bega to Bellingen, I’ve been shocked to see firsthand the number of very clear breaches in forestry operations and it’s outrageous that the community has no capacity to hold NSW Forestry Corporation to account to their own regulations
“NSW is the only state that prohibits individuals and community groups from taking legal action in regards to native forestry operations. Denying the community any role in ensuring forestry laws are upheld has been a dismal failure. The Greens’ amendments the NSW Forestry Act will help restore the rule of law in our public native forests” said Dawn Walker.