Logging crews arrived before dawn on February 27 to Ballengarra State Forest, south of Kempsey, to find their machines captured by the ropes of a tree platform. About a dozen people held signs and banners calling for the forest to be protected.
Forest protector and soil scientist Tim Evans explained why he’d chosen to take the action: “We can’t afford to lose more biodiversity, these forests represent diminishing ecosystems that are crucial for our survival. Without these forests we have no hope of restoring a functional, safe climate.
“Soil science 101 is that when the forests are logged, massive amounts of carbon is released into the atmosphere. That doesn’t show up in the carbon accounting but contributes to global warming which in turn contributes to the growing number of extreme weather events we are seeing around the world.
“I’m taking this action today to draw attention to the destruction of habitat the government is subsidising. Trees in Ballengarra were once so big it took six people to hug them.
“Once this logging is finished, there’ll be no tree here so big that I can’t put my arms around it. That’s tragic.”
He said it was also tragic for the greater gliders, yellow-bellied gliders, sugar gliders, powerful owls, masked owls and barking owls.
“They once thrived here. Now they don’t. And Koala colonies are being annihilated by the logging here. This forest was identified by the [National Parks and Wildlife Service] as a Key Climate Change Corridor for Fauna, but its usefulness is being degraded with each load of logs.”
Evans said the activist tree-sit to protect Bulga Forest, making 50 days on February 26, was inspiring. “In a climate and biodiversity crisis, we each need to do what we can. So here I am,” Evans said.
Meanwhile, the first three arrestees from the Bulga Forest protection actions — Susie Russell, Aaron Crowe and Isla Lamont appeared at Taree Court on February 22. Spokesperson Linda Gill, a former Great Lakes Councillor for 24 years, said that history would remember those who fought to stop the forest destruction as heroes.
“I never forget those women who fought so bravely for my right to vote and my right to participate in our democratic system of government.
“At the time, the suffragettes were beaten, abused, imprisoned and treated brutally by the establishment fighting to maintain its privilege.
“These forest defenders, who are being criminalised by a system that is propping up private profits by destroying public assets, will be remembered the same way.”
Gill said the public forests of NSW, the wildlife they support, the carbon they store and the water they provide, are “way more valuable kept standing”.
[A parliamentary e-petition to arrest logging and extend national parks can be signed here.]