SE forests blockade discontinued
By Tracy Sorensen
SYDNEY — The anti-logging blockade in coupe 922 of the south-east forests near Eden is over for the time being. Campaigners say it raised public awareness of the struggle to preserve animal habitats and stop logging in old growth forests.
The otherwise peaceful two-week blockade was marred by an ugly incident outside the Eden woodchip mill on July 15, when conservationists say forestry industry workers assaulted and sexually harassed protesters while the police failed to intervene.
"We showed that people are still concerned enough to come down here at a pretty miserable time of year and stay out in the bush for weeks on end, getting cold and uncomfortable, because they are concerned about what's happening in the south-east forests", South East Forests Alliance spokesperson Dr John Formby told Green Left.
He said the protest had shown the public that the state government's proposed natural resources legislation package, designed to create large "production forests" in the area, would be a "disaster". It had also drawn attention to independent MP Clover Moore's South East Forests Protection Bill, which would convert 100,000 ha of old growth forest into a national park.
Areas known to be habitat for endangered species, including the koala, were being logged. The campaigners were now keeping up pressure on the National Parks and Wildlife Service to release an internal report believed to recommend that logging not proceed in koala habitats, other than to complete work in coupes where logging had already started.
Formby added that he hoped that with a new director at the Australian Conservation Foundation and "a bit of a change of direction there perhaps", there would be more "direct support for the south-east forests.
"I'm hoping the ACF will become a bit more campaign oriented than they have been over the last few years."
The new ACF director's links to the union movement might help build a "new relationship between the union movement and environmentalists around creating alternative jobs in the south-east". He pointed out that jobs were declining in the industry not because of environmentalists, but because of a lack of demand.