Environmental protectors opposing the logging of pristine rainforest adjacent to Nightcap National Park resorted to a game of ‘cat and wallaby’ yesterday (Monday) to disrupt logging operations, appearing and disappearing without warning within the logging area.
Sue James, spokesperson for the Crescent Moon Protection Group, says that contrary to local media reports, no-one has so far been removed from the area by police.
Forestry Corporation contractors are currently logging the private property at Whian Whian, within a few kilometres of Protesters Falls, despite evidence of koala high-use trees in the area.
Ms James, who describes herself as ‘a concerned professional’, told Echonetdaily she had ‘a very good relationship’ with the police and that she had negotiated a 24-hour moratorium with them yesterday.
But she said relations were not so good with Forestry Corp workers, ‘who have stopped returning my calls, presumably because they’ve gone back on their word’.
‘They’ve even marked trees on neighbouring properties,’ she said.
‘All the neighbours are extremely concerned about the devastation.’
She added that some of the logging tracks had been washed out by more than 40mm of rain overnight.
Local resident, Yvonne, whose property is adjacent to the logging operations, said the loggers appeared without warning recently.
‘It’s a beautiful pristine area,’ she told Echonetdaily.
‘We’re at the head of the waterway, which is starting to get silted up with all the [logging] action up there. We all rely on that water,’ she said.
Yvonne said she and other locals had kept their protests peaceful, legal and respectful.
‘We’ve been conducting non-violent protest, standing there and making them aware that there are koalas there, documenting it all.
‘Our action is just being there and passively pointing out that this is what’s happened.
‘We haven’t gone onto the property – we’ve been outside the property on the road. I didn’t see any evidence of anyone arrested.’
Ecologist Dailan Pugh said he had responded to the concerns from distraught locals, one of whom ‘cracked last Thursday and sat down in front of the loggers’.
‘Some locals invited a botanist and me to accompany them on an arranged site inspection on Friday. When we got there we were met by the two foresters in charge of the operation. They objected to me and the botanist going onsite. They obviously had something to hide,’ he told Echonetdaily.
‘After stuffing around for a while, we used a back road to obtain access onto the ridge adjacent to the property.
‘At that stage two locals decided to inspect the logging operation with Forestry while a group of us stayed behind. In less than an hour some of us found five high-use koala trees (with more than 20 scats beneath).
‘On private property 20m exclusion zones need to be established around high-use trees.
‘Despite a road being constructed next to one tree and marking up having been undertaken around the others, it was apparent that Forestry had not thoroughly searched any of the trees for scats.
‘In their days of supposed searching, they claim to have found only two high-use trees; we found five in less than an hour.’
Mr Pugh said his discovery represents ‘the tip of the iceberg’ and that Forestry had not bothered to survey for any of the myriad of threatened plants and animals likely to occur on the property.
‘The only other species for which a minuscule area was protected was an Albert’s Lyrebird recorded in 1995 in the adjacent national park,’ he said.
‘The problem is that while there are prescriptions that are required to be applied for a large number of threatened plants and animals on private property, there is no legal requirement to survey for them. Forestry are relying on their ignorance once again.
‘Forestry’s motto of “what you don’t see can’t hurt you” has failed this time.’
He said some locals resorted to ‘black wallabying’ to stop logging on health and safety grounds. The protesters were essentially playing hide and seek with loggers, disappearing when two police cars arrived.
‘Given that the police didn’t want to guard the logging operation, the loggers had to withdraw from the forest,’ Mr Pugh said.
Yvonne told Echonetdaily that no logging activity had so far taken place today.