John Macgregor-Skinner, Murwillumbah.
In your 15 February edition there was an article written by Trevor Reece headed Historic environmental protests remembered. This bought back many vivid memories of the anarchy of these violent protests. The vandalism of infrastructure and equipment, the spiking of trees, the sabotage of bridges, the verbal and physical abuse of people going about their lawful occupations and the many late night telephone calls threatening to harm workers’ wives and children. All still vivid and unpleasant reminiscences.
The tirade of misinformation, emotional hype and abnormal behaviour influenced the political decision to expand the National Park estate in 1982. The so called ‘Rain Forest Decision’ saw some 63,000ha of forest locked up and only 20 per cent of it was brushwood (rain forest).
The fact that the outcome of the comprehensive Terania Creek Inquiry by Justice Isaacs vindicated the Industry and recommended that the multiple use forest management continue has been completely ignored by those who now propose some form of 40thanniversary celebration. The substantiated science of multiple use forest management was disregarded in the post report political process.
The state government’s October 1982 adverse decision was made specifically to bring an end to the violence and sabotage; the costs were people’s livelihoods and the resulting degradation of the forest advanced ecosystems.
For over 50,000 years our forest ecology has evolved through disturbance, predominately fire and many plant species regenerate best after a fire. There was always an abundance of fresh herbage and regrowth that native wildlife prefer. The multiple use forest management practices maintained that diversity of mixed age classes and grassy understory. By locking up the forest and turning them into a state of senescence, the forest ecology is changed.
For example, koala populations that were in abundance in Mebbin Forest and Collins and Lynchs Creeks have all but disappeared since these areas were converted to National Parks. Over a two-year period a koala management plan was developed to protect and enhance the then identified 400 plus Pine Creek koalas however, the expansion of the National Park has again been detrimental to this now dwindling population.
Well may they build a monument? Perhaps it should be to anarchism and the sequential loss of the environment they purport to protect.