Forest protesters attacked


Kerry Smith

A peaceful walk into Wandella State Forest, near the town of Cobargo in south-eastern NSW, turned into a terrifying experience for about 25 people on July 23. The adults and children were trapped in the forest for more than three hours when two forestry contractors and a State Forestry officer felled two large trees, blocking the exit road.

The area is currently being logged by Forests NSW, in conjunction with various contractors, and is the focus of a campaign by environmentalists to save the old-growth forest in the area.

"A violent confrontation erupted as evening fell", said a group spokesperson Helen Howie. "Approximately eight men arrived in the restricted area, rammed one vehicle full of people from behind, intimidating the group and injuring at least two of them.

"The State Forestry officer was nowhere to be seen and local police did not arrive until later in the evening."

The attack occurred while a large number of conservation groups were meeting in Bega to discuss strategies to save south-eastern NSW's forests from woodchipping and other environment issues. The meeting, on July 23 and 24, backed the Wandella blockade, which has continued in the forest at Peak Alone for six weeks.

A spokesperson for the meeting, Deb Harris, said that campaigners from local, regional and state groups, as well as the ACT, put their full support behind the blockade. The meeting agreed that the blockade has been a great success because it has highlighted woodchipping as the driving force behind regional forest destruction, the loss of biodiversity and the degradation of catchments, and has generated strong support from local residents.

For further information about the campaign, phone Melinda on (02) 6494 2091 or Tom on 0410 558 838.

From Green Left Weekly, August 3, 2005.
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