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Forestry corporation fined for causing 'actual harm' to koalas

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A New South Wales judge has punished the state's forestry corporation for contributing to the "actual harm" of koalas near the state's mid-north coast.

The Land and Environment Court handed down $285,600 in fines to Forestry Corporation NSW (FCNSW) for felling trees inside koala exclusion zones at Wild Cattle Creek Forest near Coffs Harbour back in 2018.

"The felling of the large eucalyptus trees and the construction or operation of snig tracks were highly likely to have had an adverse impact by reducing the size and the quality of the habitat available to the breeding female and offspring," Justice John Robson said.

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"As such, I accept the position adopted by the prosecutor and find that there has been actual harm."

FCNSW pleaded guilty to four charges brought forward by the NSW Environment Protection Advisory (EPA), including the prohibited felling of trees in protected rainforest areas.

The activities carried out in the Koala Exclusion Zone attracted the largest fine of $60,000.

FCNSW was ordered to pay $150,000 for the EPA's three-year-long investigation into their Wild Cattle Creek Forest activities.

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EPA Executive Director Regulatory Operations Carmen Dwyer said this is a clear message to the forestry industry.

"Strict operating rules are in place to protect precious wildlife, such as the Koala Exclusion Zones, which are a critical part of preserving the habitat of koalas to ensure their survival in this forest," he said.

"Disregarding the rules and harvesting trees in these areas can put animals under increased stress."



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