Vigil protests were held on May 25, in Hobart and Melbourne, to mark 100 days of peaceful occupation of the wildlife-rich forests of Tasmania’s Tarkine. The vigil, organised by the Bob Brown Foundation and Save the Tarkine, urged members of the Legislative Council to reject the Hodgman government's proposed destructive forests legislation and to provide National Park protection for the Tarkine.
Since early February, conservation camps have occupied two proposed logging areas on the banks of the Frankland River in the Tarkine where logging by Forestry Tasmania in 80 hectares of high conservation value forests was due to begin.
Campaign Manager Jenny Weber said: “Over the past 100 days more than 120 members of the community have participated in a vigil camp occupying and defending these forests from logging.
“We have made 100 days of savings for the taxpayer, as native forest logging in Tasmania runs at a loss and these two areas of intact forests would benefit the community, environment, climate and economy if protected rather than lost to logging.
“Citizens have spent this time documenting the outstanding natural values of this area, using wildlife cameras, visits with experts and audio call-back equipment. These surveys have recorded the presence of rare species such as the Giant Freshwater Crayfish and Spotted-tailed Quoll, and endangered species including the Tasmanian Masked Owl and Tasmanian Devil in these threatened forests.”
Save the Tarkine Campaigner Scott Jordan said: "The passion in the community for these forests has been inspiring to see. We've had people in tree sits, wildlife surveys, film-makers, photographers and artists in the forests. This is community action at its best and as a result, the ancient forests remain intact.”
Webber said: "Premier Hodgman’s controversial logging bill, if passed by the Upper House, will shamefully allow logging in 100,000 hectares of verified high conservation value forests in the Tarkine, 30,000 hectares that were protected under the 2005 Howard-Lennon forests package, including intact rainforests.
“These contentious Tarkine forests, as well as other stunning landscapes and endangered species habitat threatened by this bill, like Bruny Island and Wielangta, need to be no-go zones for logging.”
Jordan said: "There is overwhelming community support for protection of the Tarkine. There is also a long list of organisations that have publicly stated they don’t want wood from contentious forests, including corporate customers, industry groups and unions. These are compelling reasons why the legislation is madness and only serves to ignite conflict and division in a region that desperately needs real economic transformation."