After a month of protest logging was halted in Newry State Forest, west of Valla between Urunga and Macksville on August 22. Six machines departed on August 25 in what Gumbaynggirr custodian Sandy Greenwood described as a “historic moment”.
A NSW Land and Environment Court hearing the same day gave further heart to the First Nations people defending their culture.
Senior Gumbaynggirr Elder Uncle Bud Marshall, who has been active in protesting against logging in Newry, said: “We are relieved to have our first win in court this morning — a temporary reprieve from the destruction of our sacred homelands.”
NSW Forestry Corporation has locked up the forest since late July, with NSW Police guarding the logging operations. Meanwhile, koala habitat is being destroyed and First Nations elders have been violently arrested and locked up for attempting to practice ceremony on Country.
Greens MLC Sue Higginson said: “It is unbelievable that now First Nations Elders are having to take the government to court to stop them destroying their country and living culture in the face of a broken election promise.”
Greenwood said: “Our grassroots community resistance has worked and we will continue to fight until all Gumbaynggirr lands are protected from Forestry’s operations.
Meanwhile, on August 24 protesters in Martin Place in the CBD called on NSW Labor to immediately end logging in the Great Koala National Park. They chanted “Shame on Labor! What do we want? Save our forests! Save our koalas!”
Dailan Pugh from the North East Forest Alliance told the protest that the logging of key koala areas is a “completely irresponsible action by a government authority”.
“We want Labor to implement its promise to protect koalas.”
[For more information and to get involved visit Bellingen Activist Network.]