Forest activists blockade ‘carbon criminal’ headquarters

August 1, 2011
Blockaded entrance to Forests NSW headquarters, Sydney, August 1.

Conservation group South East Forest Rescue released the statement below on August 1 to coincide with its protest outside the headquarters of Forests NSW.

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Following the recent Nature Conservation Council/Environmental Defenders Office report If a Tree Falls: Compliance Failures in the Public Forests of New South Wales on unlawful logging in state forests in NSW, the conservation group South East Forest Rescue, along with conservationists from the north coast and Tasmania have blocked the entrances to Forests NSW headquarters.

There are two people in structures 25 metres above the ground, attached by cable to both entrances at Cumberland State Forest in Pennant Hills, Sydney. There is a large banner stating ‘Carbon Criminals’.

“Millions of tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions are released into the atmosphere from the logging on the south coast,” said Lisa Stone, spokesperson for South East Forest Rescue. “Forests NSW are huge carbon emitters and they cannot abide by the laws and licence conditions.”

The conservationists applaud the Minister for Forestry’s claims that Forests NSW were logging unlawfully under the previous government, but are rejecting claims that this unlawful logging has ceased.

“The amount of breaches uncovered in this month alone show that Forests NSW are still not adhering to the law under this new government,” said Stone.

Compartments like Bermagui State Forest, which is a core koala habitat, has been active for only little over a month and already South East Forest Rescue have uncovered eight breaches of licence conditions.

The conservationists are calling for a halt to native forest logging operations until the state-run agency Forests NSW can prove it meets requirements to protect endangered species, and can prove it is logging sustainably and abides by the law.

Logging compartments on the south coast have many state and nationally listed endangered species such as Glossy Black Cockatoos, Smokey Mice, Southern Brown Bandicoots, Tiger Quolls, and threatened Eastern Pygmy Possums, Bent Wing Bats, Yellow-bellied Gliders, and White-Footed Dunnarts and koalas.

Stone said: “This is the Year of Biodiversity yet hundreds of hectares of habitat are being destroyed each week and, unlike the public, Forests NSW do not even have to do a species impact statement or account for their greenhouse gas emissions.

“The licence conditions for threatened species and habitat conservation are not being adhered to, even though the conditions are grossly inadequate.

“The Nature Conservation Council report shows that this unlawfulness is systemic across NSW — anywhere there is a Regional Forest Agreement (RFA) in place. This RFA experiment that has been going on for the last 13 years has failed.”

The If a Tree Falls report documents unlawful logging uncovered by the South East Forest Rescue and the North East Forest Alliance.

“We’re calling on the NSW Minister for the Environment to bring an end to logging native forests on public land in New South Wales without further delay,” Stone said.

“The odd fine, verbal and written warnings have been ineffective in rectifying behaviour and do not match up to the degree of environmental damage being inflicted upon threatened species habitat.

“Our publicly-owned forests are being turned into woodchips and now South East Fibre Exports, the Eden chipmill, want to turn them into pellets to be burned.

“We are calling on the federal minister for environment to take action. We’re also calling upon the minister for forests, Katrina Hodgkinson, to stop denying this is occurring.

“The time has come to follow New Zealand’s lead, honour Australia’s international obligations and end native forest logging altogether.

“The protection of our native forests is of urgent national and international importance in these times of global climate chaos. It’s time to prove that political will is not extinct and put an end to native forest logging, for us and our children's future.”

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