Chipping away at Harris Daishowa

May 6, 1998

Francesca Davis

On April 28, a young protester from the blockade of the Eden woodchip mill was released after spending five days in Mullewa Women's Prison in Sydney.

Bella Jones had been charged with preventing passage of a vehicle at the mill and was subsequently charged also with breaching bail conditions requiring her to keep away from the mill. Jones was released with no conviction by a magistrate who said she had already paid a heavy price for her principles.

The Eden protest aims to stop production at the Harris Daishowa mill. Eden is the only forestry region in NSW where trees are felled for woodchipping by "integrated harvesting", the industry term for clear-felling.

Selective logging leaves forests with some mature trees and a chance for the eco-system to revive. Areas regenerated after clear-felling, on the other hand, bear little resemblance to the old growth forest.

Meanwhile, employment in the industry is falling. Sawmills in the area have closed as 90% of the timber goes to feed the chip-mill. Despite this, the industry still claims woodchipping is a by-product of saw logging. As Harriet Swift from the South East Forests Conservation Council in Bega asks: "How can a whole tree be a by-product?"

The blockade is part of a campaign to ensure that Eden's regional forest agreement between government and industry is not a complete farce. Timber production targets for the area are currently being haggled over and the agreement will be released in the next few weeks.

NSW premier Bob Carr promised to end woodchip exports by the year 2000 and conservationists are hoping he will resist the commonwealth's efforts to increase woodchip production.

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