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Byron Shire
February 28, 2021

Terania Creek protests were anarchic and violent

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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.


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  1. I have no knowledge of Terania Creek but up my way, northern rivers, many arguments about koala populations. From what I have learned pre settlement much of the crater was swamp and marsh, as the rivers suggests, not koala territory to start with. History brings changes, true, anti-history brings distortion.

  2. “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.”

    Terania Creek is rainforest, I think you will find that on historic maps it was covered in ‘thick brush’ ie. rainforest which was subject to disturbance eg. storm damage, indigenous land management and very rare fires (most rain forest species do not regenerate after a fire). Some very scattered areas of the Big Scrub had grassy areas which were burnt by indigenous peoples, however the area at Terania Creek is most definately thick lowland rainforest with dense canopy which of which fire is not a typical, reoccurring ecological feature, have you not walked through a remnant rainforest?

    Leaving it open to logging is not a typical disturbance that leads to what you say is ‘normal forest ecology’ look at the rest of the north coast, most of it is covered in weeds and grasslands, and has not returned to any kind of native rainforest. The large native trees provide fruit and flowers for the wildlife species in rainforest rather than fresh leaf regrowth within the understorey.

    The wide-scale clearing of the rainforest of Northern NSW has led to huge environmental degradation, just look at the Richmond River, we could have a thriving fishing and oyster industry if we had better water quality. It is about balance of ecosystems, not just plundering the entire region for native timber. The establishment of plantations, both native rainforest, eucalypt and pines is the best option for a sustainable timber industry.

    How do you propose to have a ongoing industry once all of the native rainforest is harvested??? forget about ideological arguments this is a real supply issue. There is less than 0.5% of rainforest left of the big scrub and you are saying we should of harvested that too?

    • Zac I have walked the length of the Terania Basin many times and during the Isaac Inquiry, so did the Judge and his staff. Only a small proportion of the area to be harvested was by definition brushwood (rainforest) and that area was to be protected. The statement that the forest was “ancient” was dispelled when it was revealed by aerial photographs that part of the basin was a corn field in 1941. The bulk of the vegetation is wet sclerophyll forest and that had been selectively harvested on previous occasions.

    • Congratulations for defending the defenders of our Forest. The Children of this region will be getting the peaceful account of the First Rain Forest Warriors in the book that has been created around the subject matters r and has already had funding for the book to enter local schools and libraries and teach the children well ??

  3. John,
    Maybe you should report your violent memories to a journalist for the past has been well reported and it seems nothing much of what you say was written about.

    • Jimbo you must be reading selective material. The anarchy and violence was widely reported at the time and Dr Nigel Turvey in his publication “Terania Creek Rainforest Wars” makes a number of references.

      • you’re tripping, I watched all the news stories when it was occuring, greenies were getting flogged and had essentially pulled out as they were getting hurt and were scared, how did you even get this pulished? The ig scru wasnt swamps ha ha

  4. You’ve got to appreciate the art of ‘spin’….’multiple use forest management’ is just a dressed-up phrase for logging.

    I’ve hiked soooo many forests from Cape York to Tasmania….only true ‘old-growth’ forest upon an un-logged, 1200m mountain in Nth Qld (Mt Elliot ranges-high plateau, couldn’t get the logging equipment up there, due to the cliffs surrounding the plateau).

    Mt Elliot plateau has massive trees, rainforest, no understory, reminded me of an ancient oak forest. You could see for a considerable distance through the forest. Just giant, ancient trees….beautiful!

    My point here being, so much of our rainforests, having been so heavily logged, um, sorry, managed, have lost so many once predominating tree species and have acquired a tangled mass of vines/undergrowth in the lower story. Most of ‘our rainforests’, Mr John Macgregor-Skinner, lack consistent large trees and in other words, have been butchered!
    It’s not until you walk up to an extremely RARE rain-forest giant (and I’m talking the Atherton Tablelands, heart of the northern rainforests!) and then the fact hits you in the face……this area was once a rainforest consisting of these giants DOMINATING the forests!

    Such a tragic loss…….where the hell is the management here?

    I’m no tree hugger, well, maybe I am, but this really upsets me, so much destruction, forests never to be re-acquired for, if the human race is lucky, many life-times.

    And the few ‘tracts of forest’, closely approaching true ‘old-growth’ forest status in Australia, rather than protect them, you want to log them (opps, sorry, ‘multiple use forest management’ them) Mr M-Skinner?????????

    Mr John Macgregor-Skinner – shame, shame, shame!!!

  5. John Macgregor Skinner you have no idea of what happened at Terrania creek. I lived there and was active in the fight to save the Forrest from the start to the end. They intended to log the brushbox trees on the edges of the rainforest which would have destroyed the rainforest with many roads and snig tracks. The only sabotage was the chainsawing of the fallen logs to make them useless but saving the Forrest by not being dragging them out. There was no intimidation of locals, but there was intimidation of protestors , I was personally told not to go into Lismore or I would be bashed. You talk of the judge Isaacs inquiry. Let me assure you he never went near the Forrest, he was to old to stay awake during the inquiry. I was threatened by him with contempt of court for telling the media that he couldn’t keep up with the proceedings because he was to old. Premier Wran dragged him out of retirement to satisfy some backbenchers. When he saw the results he realised what a complete waste of time it was and shelved it. I can’t be bothered addressing all your comments, but let me suggest you talk to people who were there and not rely on books you have read. Just bye the way the blockaiders have just been given an Australia Day award for services to the community.
    Bren CLARIDGE.


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