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Further illegal logging exposed in Tantawangalo State Forest

MEDIA RELEASE

Police and State Forests now at the scene.

Logging has been halted in Tantawangalo State Forest near Bega this morning. A tree sit is suspended 35m by steel cables connected to 3 logging machines. Evidence of systematic damage to forests in southern NSW as a result of government-supervised logging has forced the environment department EPA to again investigate the state-run logging agency, Forestry Corporation of NSW, Australian Natural Wood Exports (ANWE, the Eden woodchip mill) and their logging contractors.

Recent inspection of native forest logging practices in several compartments of Tantawangalo State Forest by conservation group South East Forest Rescue (SEFR) has uncovered fresh evidence of illegal logging of rock outcrops in the escarpment forest. The logging contractor has been caught red-handed parked right next to the breach in what should have been an exclusion zone.
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Six years ago half of the coups in the compartments in this area were logged and SEFR reported numerous breaches, which were confirmed by the EPA. One concerned the logging of a rocky outcrop that continued into an adjoining coup. A year ago when SEFR became aware that Forestry Corporation were to log the remaining coups we notified the EPA of our objection to this operation because of the extremely high probability of further breaches and specifically the half logged outcrop.

Despite this Forestry Corporation has logged what should have been a 40m exclusion zone. SEFR has also identified several other probable breaches that need to be further investigated. Forestry Corporation has gone rogue and the EPA has failed to enforce compliance of the rules.

“This situation is outrageous.” Said SEFR spokesperson Mr Scott Daines. “ All these breaches should never have happened after we notified the EPA a year ago. These are systemic breaches, past audits have exposed illegal logging of endangered ecological communities, old-growth and rock outcrops, we have proven systemic re-occurring breaches on the south coast that show a pattern of wilful non-compliance.”

The EPA has handed out penalty notices to the Forestry Corporation in the past for breaking these logging rules, and is now prosecuting over breaches in Glenbog State Forest, yet despite this SEFR today confirmed that the illegal logging of native forests continues by Forestry Corporation.

SEFR has reported on rocky outcrop breaches in this area as far back as April 2010, and still there has been no noticeable change in the practices of logging contractors.

“The chipmill ANWE and the Forestry Corporation have gotten away with actions the average person would be fined hundreds of thousands of dollars for,” said Mr Daines.

Damage similar to that at Tantawangalo State Forest was identified by South East Forest Rescue in other Tantawangalo compartments as well as Glenbog and Yambulla State Forests, after ANWE and Forestry Corp’s logging operations.

“These regulations have been in place for 18 years, they are simple to follow and yet they are being broken regularly,” said Mr Daines. “The EPA has tried ‘education’, warning letters, its tried fines, but nothing is working. Citizens can’t take FCNSW to court. It’s time the NSW Government cut the cord and ended destructive native forest logging.”

This peaceful action has also taken place because deforestation is one of the biggest causes of climate change and Forestry Corp are incurring a massive financial loss in native forests.

“South East Forest Rescue calls on the state government to suspend all native forestry operations on the south coast immediately. The unsustainable wood supply agreements have surpassed the tipping-point of credibility and integrity. The citizens of the state of NSW have been defrauded, and the forest-dependant species of our region have been the silent victims” said Mr Daines.

The time has come to follow New Zealand’s lead an end native forest logging once and for all.

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18 comments

  1. Ray

    Bega is full of rednecks so I am not surprised.

  2. Kim Southwood

    Thanks for the report and heartfelt thanks to the SEFR for their intervention. Words tend to fail me in commenting on Forestry Corporation of NSW, Australian Natural Wood Exports (ANWE, the Eden woodchip mill) and their logging contractors. In this, they represent everything that is dark, ugly and evil in government and business. So sad we are up against it for the long haul, but optimistic we’ll win out. Stay strong.

  3. Harquebus

    A worthy cause.
    Destroying forests is something that we have become very good at. We should be planting trees, not cutting them down.

    These practices are happening on a global scale and can have effects far beyond a destroyed forest. I have lots of links on deforestation. Here is a recent one that I read just a couple of days ago.

    “Major forest die-offs due to drought, heat and beetle infestations or deforestation could have consequences far beyond the local landscape. say scientists. Wiping out an entire forest can have significant effects on global climate patterns and alter vegetation on the other side of the world, they say.”
    https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/11/161117205122.htm

    BTW: Has anyone else been following the Standing Rock protests?

    The fight against greed is a global one.
    Keep up the good fight.

    Cheers.

  4. Andreas Bimba

    The issue of native forest logging for a tiny financial reward was what won me over to the Greens in the 1980’s.

    A bus tour of Tasmania in my teens where I saw masses of cleared alpine ash forest and huge piles of wood chips at the ports made it clear our politics was controlled by short term greed.

    Those engaged in trying to save the natural world are inspiring and are like those poor souls who fought and occasionally died to transition our world from feudalism to a more egalitarian democracy. The fight continues and in many areas we are losing ground but the current era of the rule by big business must end.

  5. Harquebus

    corvus boreus
    Please pass along my moral support to your acquaintance the next time that you are in touch and thank you for the link.
    Cheers.

  6. John Brame

    The relentless (undeclared) war on nature by the human species. Disgraceful.

  7. Phil

    All strength the the SEFR. Avarice is a central tenet of the unregulated capitalist.

    Occasionally government’s succumb to public pressure to protect and conserve what the majority value such as old growth forest, wildlife, rivers, soil, air quality et al – almost always the government is progressive in nature – then when a conservative-neoliberal administration takes power it retains the legislation whilst colluding with the capitalists to undermine the spirit and intent of the legislation.

    Conservative governments the world over have devolved to be simple extensions of the unfettered capitalist class – the profit at any cost takers – the system exploiters – the life destroyers – the people’s deceivers.

    Conservative-neoliberal governments are emphatically and fundamentally undemocratic – they instinctively reject democracy, they work to undermine equality and they corrupt the justice system to serve their own interests – they care nothing for the people, the wildlife, the landscape – these worthless unless they provide some temporary profit for the elites.

  8. Kyran

    Does it strike any one else as odd that agencies such as the EPA can’t enforce the laws (paltry as they are) designed to protect our environment? Whether it be due to lack of resources, lack of will, lack of law, they aren’t up to it.
    By way of contrast, state governments have shown incredible resolve in introducing legislation to restrict protest and will resource agencies to enforce those laws without restriction.
    That pesky bloke, Bob Brown, was arrested in January (with five others) in Lapoinya forest in Tasmania. The charges were dropped, most likely due to that pesky blokes profile and the attention it would bring to any legal proceedings. Seriously folks, this pesky bloke is a recidivist. He tried the same thing back in the 70’s with that Franklin River thing.
    Now that pesky bloke is challenging Tasmania’s ‘anti-protest’ laws in the High Court!
    The Tasmanian laws are designed to prevent the disruption of mining and forestry projects. Business cannot be interrupted, even if that business is committed to nothing other than short term profits at the cost of the environment.
    These laws mean protesters face on-the-spot fines of $2000 for hindering a business activity and penalties of up to $50,000 or five years in jail for threatening to damage a business.
    Business cannot be interrupted.
    Thankfully, the bambi government has introduced laws (on October 26), cracking down on “interference with mining and other businesses or undertakings”. They will protect business.
    “They provide a maximum penalty of $5500 for anyone convicted of interfering with a business and putting people’s safety at serious risk.
    A maximum penalty of seven years in jail applies for anyone convicted of “intentionally or recklessly interfering with a mine”.”
    It seems only fair and appropriate that the bambi government, unable to adequately resource the agencies that are meant to protect the environment, will join the High Court action to defend its right to ban the protests.
    “A spokesman for the department of justice said NSW intervened in the High Court because “it is the issue of the extent of implied freedom of political communication, which is important to a State or Territory’s legislative powers”.”
    The article doesn’t articulate the penalties faced by these businesses, but I would hazard a guess that they aren’t significant. The protesters face significant financial penalty and a criminal record for attempting to protect the environment. Businesses face fines but the directors do not face criminal prosecution and are rarely held to account in having to pay for the environmental remediation necessitated by their business venture.
    Some fifteen years ago, I was involved in a court case in Victoria. A protester had been charged with damaging machinery at illegal logging coops. After months of investigation, it became apparent the coops were definitely illegal. In order to try and mitigate the criminal charges faced by the protester, many attempts were made to have various agencies prosecute all of those involved in the logging.
    Not one agency would prosecute any of those involved in the logging, even though the investigative work was more than sufficient to satisfy ‘brief’ status.
    Business will not be interrupted.
    Thank you SEFR, and AIMN. Take care

  9. Harquebus

    “Since graduating from Williams College this spring, 21-year-old Sophia Wilansky has devoted herself full-time to fighting for environmental justice, her friends say. In a standoff Sunday night with police in Standing Rock, N.D., she might have lost an arm for it.”
    http://grist.org/justice/an-injured-standing-rock-activist-could-lose-an-arm-but-her-resolve-remains-strong/

    “True courage is the path of the spirit-driven activist…the warrior of truth…the status quo crusher.” — Deb Ozarko

  10. Harquebus

    Kyran
    Great post.
    Keep it up.
    Cheers.

  11. Andreas Bimba

    Sophia Wilansky’s injury is truly tragic. Rubber bullets are deadly and should not be permitted. The use of water cannons when temperatures are subzero risks death from hypothermia. I think many of these police would willingly murder protestors if given the order. These militarised police arose from George W Bush’s war on terror and are used against native people and environmentalists. Probably all part of the corporate grand plan to effectively rule the United States and the world.

    The U.S. shows where we are heading.

  12. Harquebus

    Andreas Bimba
    I agree with your assessment on the expansion of the war on terror and share your concern that these tactics will also be used against our own environment protection activists.
    Cheers.

  13. Andreas Bimba

    Another example from the U.S. where Republican Senator Doug Ericksen (we all know most are paid agents of big business) wants to submit a bill to charge protesters and their donors with terrorism. I suppose then by being legally defined as terrorists that the police then have the legal authority to apply immediate deadly force?

    These right wing nut jobs are declaring war on their citizens.

    http://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/306580-washington-republican-floats-charging-protesters-with-economic-terrorism

    https://actionnetwork.org/petitions/urgent-new-law-would-charge-protesters-with-terrorism

  14. Harquebus

    I know that Standing Rock is not Tantawangalo State Forest but, perhaps we can take inspiration from it. These people, like our own, are unarmed and as Andreas Bimba has stated, “The U.S. shows where we are heading.”.

    “Yet, despite this brutal assault, the people at Standing Rock keep on fighting. This video is dedicated to Sophia Wilansky, who was critically injured during the attack.”
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P4T3C6_Hneo

    Cheers.

  15. Kyran

    With respect, Harquebus, we need to take heed of the situation, rather than take inspiration from it. If America is a first world nation, why is it that both Amnesty International and the UN have sent Human Rights Observers to that protest site?
    “As tensions escalate at the site of a disputed pipeline close to the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in North Dakota, Amnesty International USA (AIUSA) has sent a delegation of human rights observers to monitor the response of law enforcement to protests by Indigenous communities.”
    “Arrests of protesters, who call themselves water protectors, have increased in recent weeks and law enforcement has employed a more militarized response to protests and encampments near the construction site of the Dakota Access Pipeline. The local Indigenous communities say the pipeline endangers their water supply and desecrates sacred land. This week, arrests have occurred at a camp that was recently established on federally-recognized private land near the construction site.”
    It is not the people at Standing Rock that are fighting. They are protesting. The brutal assault, the fighting, is coming from the other side of the ‘barricade’.
    Just like Tantawangalo. Take care

  16. Harquebus

    Kyran
    I get your point. It is the reason that I asked if anyone was following the Standing Rock situation. It could be that Standing Rock becomes a turning point for the global resistance. That is my hope.

    “With an eye toward the media, old military uniforms will be donned so that if the veterans are brutalized by the police, they are brutalized not as ordinary citizens, but as people who once served the government they are protesting against.”
    http://theantimedia.org/veterans-defend-dapl-protesters/

  17. Matt

    Thanks for the informative article.

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