Logging continued in many places around the country during the COVID-19 lock down. Environmental activists and locals concerned about logging operations were disciplined and largely stayed at home during the pandemic.
Now, this long wait has overflowed into action. In Tasmania, people have occupied trees in forest being cut near Mt Field. On the south coast of NSW, the community of Manyana is opposing the destruction of unburnt forest for a housing development, and now actions have happened across the Central Highlands of Victoria. This follows sustained action by locals at Big Pats Creek near Warburton.
The following media release comes from a network calling itself the National Action for Forests Program:
National program ramps up to halt logging across Australia
Logging operations were shut down in Big Pats Creek, Warburton, for the fourth week, and in the Kinglake ranges and Baw Baw today as Traditional Owners, regional communities and climate and conservation groups call for an immediate end to logging in Australia’s native forests.
Community members today also brought this message all the way to Daniel Andrews office.
These four protests are part of a national program that is unifying behind two messages: logging is criminal in a climate emergency and there is no consent given by First Nations people to continue decimating this country.
Elders and Traditional Owners are speaking up against the handing over of Traditional Country, Totems, Stories and Cultural Values to logging agencies without consent.
“We as the First People belonging to this country have never given consent for the destruction and decimation of our land,” said Lidia Thorpe, Gunnai / Gunditjmara woman.
“Our Totems, Songlines and cultural identity are intrinsically linked with the bush and all living things within it,” said Lidia Thorpe.
“Governments have orchestrated and manufactured consent from corporations breaching the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous peoples, article 19, which states ‘States shall consult and cooperate in good faith with the indigenous peoples concerned through their own representative institutions in order to obtain their free, prior and informed consent before adopting and implementing legislative or administrative measures that may affect them”1 said Lidia Thorpe.
“Logging increases bushfire risk by replacing older, damper forest with young, dense dry forest2; the recent fires were made worse by logging and mismanagement of the forest.3 More than 20 per cent of Australia’s forest have burned in bushfires this season, fuelled by climate change.4 An estimated one billion animals have been lost.5 It is criminal that state and federal governments are allowing logging to destroy remaining unburnt habitat and further damage burnt forest,” said Sue McKinnon of Kinglake Friends of the Forest.
These protests are enforcing the globally and nationally recognised precautionary principle by halting activities that are causing threats of serious or irreversible damage. The communities of Kinglake and Warburton are already high risk locations for bushfires. “It is unthinkable – yet somehow happening that our government and VicForests are knowingly increasing this risk,” said Sue.
Australia’s forests are among the most carbon dense in the world.6 The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change states that protecting the world’s forests is critical in avoiding the worst impacts of climate change and limiting global warming to 1.5 oC.7
“We are destroying our single greatest system drawing down and storing carbon, and for what? Office paper.8 It is absolutely criminal and can’t continue,” said forest activist Evelyn.
“The native logging industry has no social licence9, is economically non viable10, and incompatible with a liveable planet. As governments have failed to value and protect our forests it is up to everyday people to step in. We will continue to disrupt the destruction across the country until native forest logging ends,” said Evelyn.
Kinglake ranges: Sue McKinnon 0431 674 254 / Gayle Cole 0408 315 360
Baw Baw: Kris 0418 912 625
Warburton: Nic 0427 258 333
City (Daniel Andrews office): Katherine 0468 963 868
- United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous peoples https://humanrights.gov.au/our- work/un-declaration-rights-indigenous-peoples-1
- Lindenmayer, Hunter, Burton, & Gibbons (2009) Effects of logging on fire regimes in moist forests, https://conbio.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1755-263X.2009.00080.x
- David B. Lindenmayer, Robert M. Kooyman, Chris Taylor, Michelle Ward and James E. M. WatsonDavid B. Lindenmayer, Robert M. Kooyman, Chris Taylor, Michelle Ward and James E. M. Watson, Recent Australian wildfires made worse by logging and associated forest management https://www.nature.com/articles/s41559-020-1195-5.epdf
- Boer, Resco de Dios and Bradstock (2020) Unprecedented burn area of Australian mega forest fires. Nature Climate Change volume 10, pages171–172(2020). (https://www.nature.com/articles/s41558-020-0716-1)
- Chris Dickman, an ecologist at the University of Sydney, stated in Huffington Post, 7 Jan 2020, https://www.huffingtonpost.com.au/entry/billion-animals-australia- fires_n_5e13be43e4b0843d361778a6?ri18n=true&ncid=fcbklnkushpmg00000063
- Keith, Mackey, & Lindenmayer (2009) Re-evaluation of forest biomass carbon stocks and lessons from the world’s most carbon-dense forests, https://www.pnas.org/content/106/28/11635 (include graphic)
- National Geographic (2019) To save the planet, protect forests now, UN says https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/2019/08/to-save-the-planet-protect-forests- now-ipcc-report-says/
- Taylor & Lindenmayer (2019) Logged native forests mostly end up in landfill, not in buildings and furniture, http://theconversation.com/logged-native-forests-mostly-end-up-in-landfill-not-in- buildingsand-furniture-115054
- https://www.smh.com.au/environment/sustainability/bush-turns-its-back-on-support-for-logging- native-forests-20181113-p50frc.html
- The Australia Institute https://www.tai.org.au/sites/default/files/P879%20Forests%20Open%20Letter%20- %20Supplementary%20Brief%20%5BWeb%5D_0.pdf#overlay-context=content/bushfire-response- international-experts-open-letter-call-native-logging-ban