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September 26, 2022

Terania Creek a catalyst

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Dailan Pugh, Byron Bay.

I take strong objection to John Macgregor-Skinner’s biased and incorrect portrayal of the Terania Creek protests (Letters Echonetdaily 4 April).

The 300 hectares comprised the largest unlogged stand of tall coastal forests left in this region, a rainforest valley with giant fringing Brush Box up to 1,300 years old, surrounded by old-growth Blackbutt.

Fire frequency was measured as 280 years in the blackbutt forests, with a fire intruding into the rainforest margin 1,000 years ago.

With the support of 150 police they attempted to start logging on 16 August 1979, though they were greeted by two hundred protesters. That it still stands is testimony to the strength of the local community in opposing the destruction of this precious remnant.

It was predominantly a peaceful protest, though there were some hot-heads on both sides. Many people put their lives at risk by standing in the way as these ancient giants were felled. Many were treated brutally by the police as they were dragged through the bush.

Terania Creek was momentous as it was one of the first forest blockades in the world.

Terania Creek was the catalyst that led to the 1982 ‘Rainforest Decision’ that resulted in the protection of 120,000ha of predominantly rainforest and old-growth forest, as well as some forests degraded by logging. It led to the creation of the Nightcap, Border Ranges and Washpool National Parks, as well as significant expansions to many of our other iconic national parks such as New England, Werrikimbe and Barrington Tops.

These forests were protected because the actions at Terania Creek generated national media and brought the logging of rainforests to the public attention, and the weight of public opinion was that rainforests were too precious to continue logging.

However, it wasn’t until our blockades and a court case over North Washpool in 1989 and 1990 that rainforest logging on public lands was finally stopped. The legacy of logging lives on; it is sad to see that many logged rainforests protected 36 years ago are still tangled messes that will take centuries to recover.

The plight of koalas in our public forests is primarily owing to logging removing the large trees of certain species they preferentially feed on. With fewer food trees there are fewer koalas, another logging legacy affecting our national parks.

The most worrying logging legacy is the 26,000 hectares of the Border Ranges region’s public forests affected by logging dieback. Logging opens the canopy and allows lantana to invade the forest. Bell Miners then dominate the altered habitat and ‘farm’ sap-sucking psyllids that slowly kill the surviving trees. The impacts continue for decades.

It is the long-lasting legacy of the violent logging of our public native forests that is of most concern to me. Large areas are in urgent need of extensive rehabilitation and it is the loggers who should be required to pay for fixing up the damage they caused and profited by.



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  1. I suggest that any who are influenced by the misconceptions expressed by Dylan peruse the transcript and findings of the Terania Creek Inquiry, Dr Turvey’s publication The Terania Creek Rainforest Wars, a 1992 study by Diana Gibbs Impacts of the NSW Rainforest Decision (Australian Forestry Vol 55 p80-89) and the 1998 Pine Creek Koala Management Advisory Committee’s Report. A visit to the Bell Minor Associated Dieback website will also be informative.


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