Tuesday, February 27, 2024
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Defenders of the forests

Up and down the east coast of NSW people are standing up to defend the forests they love and on which we all depend.

Native forest logging in our state runs at a loss of millions of dollars a year to the taxpayer. After the devastation of the 2019-2020 bushfires, throughout the pandemic, logging has intensified in many areas, increasing threats to endangered species including koalas and greater gliders, and impairing ecosystem functions such as climate regulation, erosion prevention and water quality preservation.

In the film Gondwana Going … Going … Gone?, award-winning documentary maker David Bradbury takes viewers to some of the sites of struggle for forest protection: Bulga and Lorne state forests on Biripi country, Gibberagee State Forest on Bundjalung country, as well as to the Cape Byron Power Broadwater power station, where native forest biomass is burned to generate electricity.

In this documentary we hear perspectives and see actions of local people of all ages and their supporters who stand in the way of logging operations, sometimes at great personal cost. This is interspersed with footage of intact and logged forests and a soundtrack that both celebrates the forests and laments their destruction.

The change of government will bring greater protection to the forests of NSW. The Labor party has pledged to establish a Great Koala National Park between Kempsey and Coffs Harbour as well as a Georges River Koala National Park. And, after three months of community campaigning at Bulga Forest, NSW Forestry Corporation has just suspended logging in a contentious part of the forest – for now.

However, unlike its counterparts in Western Australia and Victoria, the new government of NSW has not committed to end native forest logging. In contrast, the elected representatives of many South Sydney Herald readers are crossbenchers who have given their support to the campaign.

Until a policy to end native forest logging is adopted and – crucially – implemented on the ground, including a moratorium on logging in proposed national park areas, the struggles to protect forests will intensify.

Following the suspension of logging at Bulga Forest, Save Bulga Forest spokesperson Dr Jarra Hicks said, “We understand that Bulga Forest won’t be safe until all the native forests on public land are safe, and the forests are no longer being logged.

“The new Labor government has not committed to do that as yet. However, we hope they will be more open to the scientific evidence, which is mounting every day, that shows the logging needs to stop.”

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Gondwana Going … Going … Gone? is available for viewing on YouTube.

The North East Forest Alliance is an alliance of individuals and groups working to protect forests throughout north-east NSW.

The NSW Nature Conservation Council and the Bob Brown Foundation both provide support for concerned citizens to be part of the campaign to end native forest logging.

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