Goolengook forest blockade attacked



MELBOURNE — The Victorian Labor government sent police and environment department staff to dismantle the Goolengook forest blockade in East Gippsland in the early morning on March 5. The blockade has been the longest running in Australia. It celebrated its fifth anniversary on the evening before the raid.

“This is Victoria's most spectacular and irreplaceable old-growth forest”, Wilderness Society campaign manager Gavin McFadzean said. “It is a stronghold for rare and endangered species including the long-footed potoroo, the spot-tailed quoll and the powerful and sooty owls.”

Activists from Friends of the Earth (FoE) are organising an international boycott of forestry products sourced from Victorian native forests. The campaign will involve FoE networks in 66 countries, said FoE forestry spokesperson Anthony Amis.

The attack on the Goolengook blockade comes less than two weeks after the Victorian government announced a 43% reduction in sawlog licences in the East Gippsland region. “Our fears are that Premier Steve Bracks' announcement will not reduce logging, but simply increase woodchipping appear to be confirmed”, McFadzean said. Old-growth forests are woodchipped and sold for as little as 10 cents a tonne.

“How can consumers of timber products overseas trust our government management of forests, when the state Labor government continues to log old-growth and high-conservation value forests such as Goolengook?”, queried Amis.

Amis said that unless Victoria's forest management and forest products are independently assessed by the Forest Stewardship Council, the international boycott will remain in place indefinitely.

From Green Left Weekly, March 13, 2002.
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