Michael Jones was charged for taking action against native forest logging in Ellis State Forest in the Northern Rivers region of New South Wales. The rolling protests were over July-August.
“The state forestry company is systematically logging in high conservation value areas,” he told Green Left. “Ellis State Forest is concentrated with threatened species: the greater glider, yellow bellied glider, koala, stuttering frog and black cockatoo may become regionally extinct because of the logging.
“Tall forests are a powerful carbon sink, we need to sink carbon to avert climate change.”
Jones locked himself on to a harvester to stop the logging. Others have climbed trees to shut down the site. “We got a lot of media, the ABC in particular,” Jones said.
Jones received three charges; ecological scientist Mark Graham, who also participated in the action, received nine.
“Within the state-wide forestry company, only 600 workers are employed full-time,” revealed Jones. “Compare these job numbers to the tourist numbers that the Great Koala National Park (GKNP) could generate.”
“The GKNP is a plan to add 175,000 hectares of publicly owned forests currently being logged to existing protected areas to cohere 315,000 hectare reserve in the Coffs Harbour hinterland,” explained Jones.
“Dorrigo plateau and Ellis State Park could form part of this Great Koala National Park (GKNP),” said Jones. “Bellingen Shire Council, Coffs Harbour and Armidale Councils all support the GKNP, along with two local Aboriginal land councils.
“Surveys of people living in the area show 78% of the population in the north coast want a koala park.”
A recent University of Newcastle report revealed that the GKNP could result in more than 9000 jobs in tourism, infrastructure and science and over $1 billion in economic output.
The NSW Forestry Corporation posted an $80 million loss last year, “so it makes no sense economically” for the state government to prioritise logging over national parks, Jones said.
Jones said the Oxley electorate, which contains significant portions of the proposed GKNP — and is held by the National Party’s Melinda Pavey — is now a marginal seat. “We need to keep the campaign pressure on in Sydney and the Northern Rivers to save native forests.”
[Sign the petition supporting the Great Koala National Park here.]