Forest fine: tree feller crosses costly national park line
A TREE felling contractor copped almost the full brunt of the law in Gympie Magistrates Court when he pleaded guilty to unknowingly taking trees on the national park side of a Mothar Mountain property boundary.
Magistrate Chris Callaghan fined Brenden Paulger $2500 after Paulger pleaded guilty to the offence, committed between August 19 and October 4, 2015.
He and a co-accused appeared before the court last Thursday, with Paulger pleading guilty and the other man having his case adjourned.
They each faced a charge of breaching the protection of "cultural and natural resources in protected areas”.
Paulger's penalty assessment appeared to include a consideration of his co-operation with the authorities under a section of the Penalties and Sentences Act which allows sealed documents to be presented to the court.
The section allows courts to consider co-operation with the authorities in assessing penalties to be imposed on co-offenders.
Paulger's offence occurred in the Woondum National Park at Mothar Mountain and the court was told the offence involved taking natural resources without authority.
Paulger's legal representative told the court Paulger, as the contractor, did not have detailed information on where the boundary was, relying instead on advice from his client.
Fences were not always in the right place and even GPS and maps could be difficult.
Paulger had co-operated with the National Parks prosecution.
Mr Callaghan said it was the contractor's responsibility and, "for the community's sake, you just can't go taking stuff from National Parks”.