By ABHA HAVAL
At a rally organised by the Bob Brown Foundation, a large crowd gathered in Marrickville on Saturday (12 August) to take a stand against forest logging nationwide. People chanted “save the forests” and “we speak for the trees” in an effort to end logging.
The speakers at the protest included Greens Senator Mehreen Faruqi, Greens MP Sue Higginson, conservationists John Seed, Susie Rusell, Dr Kim Loo, climate activist Chris Black and comedian Dan Ilic. Musicians Montaigne and William Craighton also sang in support of the protest.
Traditional custodians are feeling the heat as the Minns government continues logging in state forests in mid-north NSW despite protests from the Gumbaynggirr community to stop logging on sacred land. It is also the region where the Labor government promised to build the Great Koala National Park (GKNP). But it is now being cut down for timber production.
The Greens are calling on the Labor government and Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek to put a stop to the logging of state forests nationwide.
Senator Mehreen Faruqi expressed her dismay regarding logging and the threat to wildlife in native forests asserting “this fight is not just for our native forests; it is a fight for environmental justice, climate justice, and for First Nations justice.”
“The ecological vandalism of logging our native forests have gone on for too long. Enough is enough. There must be a total ban on native forest logging across this country.”
Faruqi emphasised the fragility of current environmental laws.
“We know that it is reckless regional forestry agreements, and weak and broken federal environmental laws that have allowed native forest logging to go on indiscriminately, which has put our wildlife at the brink of extinction,” she said.
Minns Government is bulldozing state forests after promising a koala sanctuary
MP Sue Higginson has been on the frontline of the Newry State Forest where the Minns government has given the green light a few months ago to commence logging where the GKNP was promised.
She said, “it was the one promise that the Labor Government was elected to deliver to NSW, to end logging of the GKNP on the mid-north coast.”
“Right now, this government is logging the guts out of the GKNP… there are trucks after trucks with police escort in the face of Gumbaynggirr elders standing saying ‘No’, driving out on the back of log trucks, 10 per day, in the koala habitat.”
“This is happening right now in our state by our government, here in NSW. This is wrong. It is absolutely the sight of a war on nature, and on the Gumbaynggirr elders.”
Higginson mentioned an incident that occurred on Thursday, when a traditional Gumbaynggirr man who was practicing ceremony in the forests was tackled by the police, and taken to the Coff Harbour Police Station, and put in lockup all night.
“This man… was begging the state to stop logging his forests and destroying the very animals that are his totems, part of his identity and his living culture.”
Logging forests is costing people more than money
The Forestry Corporation commenced logging on state forests affirming that the forests produce renewable timber that is regrowing every year for the last century with only 1 percent of the native forests being harvested.
The current state of the timber plantation is believed to be the opposite. As Higginson mentioned: “In the last 2 years, to log our forests, it cost everybody in NSW $28 million. That’s what we subsidised to this industry.”
“We’re not logging for money, and we’re not logging for resource. Most of the timber… it’s not building our houses or the things that we all need anymore. It’s literally being used for very low value products that we can replace elsewhere.”
“We’re talking about 1.8 percent of the whole of NSW. It’s a small part of NSW… it is our forest ecosystem that provide us with clean air, fresh water and homes for animals.”
The Greens, and activists are calling on the NSW federal government to protect state forests, to tackle the climate crisis and protect wildlife from extinction with the urgency and profoundness it demands.