Healthy Environment, Healthy Community, Healthy Business

Environment Protection Authority

Environmental Issues

Native forestry

Compliance of forestry operations on public land

The Environment Protection Authority (EPA) regulates the Forestry Corporation of NSW (FCNSW) native forestry operations under seven Integrated Forestry Operations Approvals (IFOAs). IFOAs are made under the Forestry Act 2012 and bring together the requirements for environmental planning and assessment, protection of the environment and the protection of threatened species and their habitat.

The IFOAs incorporate

The EPA does not regulate plantations or the impact of native forestry operations on threatened fish species.

EPA's regulatory approach

The EPA maintains an active native forestry compliance program to help ensure IFOA compliance and promote continuous improvement in environmental performance.

The EPA focuses its regulatory effort based on information gathered, potential or actual harm, and environmental risk. This ensures that key environment and biodiversity protection priorities across NSW are appropriately considered and regulated.

The EPA investigates alleged offences and may take enforcement action if operations have breached environmental legislation. The type of enforcement action will vary. The EPA uses a prioritisation and risk based approach to decide the likelihood and consequence of environmental harm associated with any non-compliance as well as operator history and the likelihood of similar issues occurring again.

Compliance update

The EPA assesses compliance against the compliance priorities. The EPA's compliance audits are always proactive. They are a systematic and independent way for the EPA to assess Forestry Corporation of NSW compliance in key priority areas. The EPA undertakes both proactive and responsive investigations. Proactive investigations are initiated by the EPA using information gathered from our intelligence streams or past regulatory work. Responsive investigations are triggered by notifications made by members of the public or self-report from forestry operations. Public concerns about native forest operations should be reported through the Environment Line on 131 555.

Compliance audit reports for individual crown forestry operations are available on the EPA's public register and in the compliance audit report register. These audit reports summarise the EPA's findings, against the relevant Integrated Forestry Operations Approval, for a specific forestry operation. Attached to each audit report is the audit findings table which includes details and explanations of compliances, non-compliances and where the EPA was unable to determined compliance with audited conditions. Also attached to each report is the EPA Risk Matrix for non-compliances and the Forestry Corporation of NSW's submission on our draft audit findings.

Non-compliances are assessed against environmental risk. The scale of the harm and the sensitivity of the environmental receptor is assessed against the likelihood of environmental harm occurring. This gives us a consistent understanding of environmental risk.

In the financial year 2013-14, the EPA completed 21 audits and 29 investigations of Forestry Corporation of NSW forestry operations in regions covered by an Integrated Forestry Operations Approval . This includes coastal and western forests. The audits and investigations identified a total of 5 non-compliances with Environment Protection Licences and 197 non-compliances with Threatened Species Licences. Audit results for 2013-14 are summarised below along with those from previous years.

Investigations 14 11 25 29
Compliance audits 14 28 20 21
Environment Protection Licence non compliances 245 414 112 5
Threatened Species Licence non compliances 385 188 203 197
Protection of the Environment Operations Act non compliances 14 27 18 11
National Parks and Wildlife Act non compliances 0 5 0 0

EPA Regulatory action update

In 2013-14, the EPA issued two penalty notices to Forestry Corporation of NSW, for harvesting in rocky outcrops and subterranean bat exclusion zones. The EPA also issued Forestry Corporation of NSW six warning letters and 10 advisory letters in relation to identified breaches. Each warning letter may make reference to a number of breaches.

Regulatory action2010-112011-122012-132013-14
Advisory letters 4 5 10 10
Warning letters 8 17 4 6
Action Plans - - - 73
Clean-up notices 3 2 0 0
Official caution - - - 6
Penalty notices 12 10 11 2
Prosecutions 1 0 0 2

Reporting native forestry incidents

The EPA values the support of the community to alert it to any suspected breaches of the environmental requirements associated with forestry on public lands. Reporting a native forestry harvesting incident on public land explains how to report a suspected breach to the EPA.

Page last updated: 19 May 2016