Protesters return to 'save the Weld'

November 17, 1993

Alex Bainbridge, Hobart

Six months after they forced Forestry Tasmania to promise a six-month moratorium on logging and road construction in the Weld Valley, protesters have returned to make sure the forests are saved.

The Weld Valley, a 50-kilometre stretch of largely pristine forest located 60km south-west of Hobart, has been dubbed "the forgotten forest". This refers to the fact that it was left out of the pro-logging deal signed by Coalition PM John Howard and Labor Premier Paul Lennon after last year's federal election. Prior to the election, the Weld was mentioned by the Coalition as one of the forests that would be "saved".

"The entire Weld Valley deserves world heritage protection", Huon Valley environmentalist and Socialist Alliance member Glenn Shields told Green Left Weekly.

The Weld Valley is adjacent to the south-west World Heritage Wilderness Area. "Most, if not all of [the Weld], has already been recommended for world heritage status and it's a disgrace that it hasn't been done yet", said Shields.

Despite the Weld's high-conservation values, Forestry Tasmania has scheduled a number of forest coupes in valley for logging this summer. A well-coordinated team of forest protection activists have vowed to prevent any logging from occurring.

"We are out there to stop any work on the Weld Valley this summer", protester Rob Sheehan told GLW. "We will guard any active coupe and stop them."

The anti-logging campaigners have constructed eight raised platforms for tree sits as part of a "forest village". "We are building a camp for families and children to come and live and feel comfortable", Sheehan said.

A media conference launching the campaign was held on September 26, attracting national media attention.

One feature of the campaign is the "canopy research station" that will be inaugurated by Greens Senator Bob Brown on November 26. Protesters staffing this station have already begun trapping insects and invertebrates to assist research at the University of Tasmania. Forestry Tasmania is not conducting such research, according to Sheehan.

He also said that Forestry Tasmania officers and police have come out on a few occasions to investigate the protesters' camp, but so far there have been no confrontations.

The protesters are encouraging other people to come to the camp, see the Weld and to consider staying. Directions can be obtained from the Huon Valley Environment Centre at 17 Wilmot Road, Huonville.

From Green Left Weekly, October 26, 2005.
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