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Byron Shire
May 24, 2024

Greens MP says forest protector will be vindicated

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Valerie Thompson in threatened forest. Photo supplied.

Forest defender Valerie Thompson will today face court in Ballina after she was arrested for stopping forest operations in Doubleduke State Forest north of Grafton.

Ms Thompson sat high in a tree on a platform, in what is referred to as a tree sit, which was attached to logging equipment and stopped logging for 30 hours in early March this year.

The conflicts in Doubleduke have been ongoing, with NSW Forestry Corporation accused of multiple breaches of harvesting laws including failing to map all giant trees and habitat trees.

On Friday last week the EPA instructed the Forestry Corporation to stop work, which is a temporary victory for the forest defenders. Ms Thompson’s protest was carried out while the EPA was carrying out its investigation into breaches that have since been upheld. Ms Thomson faces charges relating to entering a closed forest and interfering with timber harvesting equipment.

Greens MP and spokesperson for the environment Sue Higginson said, ‘It is time we finally bring these conflicts to a close and end logging our public native forests. The ongoing resources being poured into logging, EPA investigations, courts and legal resources used to prosecute protestors and the fines that Forestry Corporation regularly pays out of the public purse is getting ridiculous.’

Sue Higginson MLC. Photo Tree Faerie.

Madness of forest destruction

‘It’s time to stop this nonsense,’ said Ms Higginson.

‘It is costing taxpayers millions of dollars every year to log and damage our public forests and then some more to prosecute the people who are trying to protect them in accordance with science and economics.

‘In the past two years it has cost taxpayers $28m to log our forests and hundreds of thousands in fines and prosecutions. I am calling on the new Labor minority Government to take a serious look at this wasteful and harmful archaic way of managing our valuable and precious public forest estate,’ she said.

‘The science, evidence and communities who live close to our forests are telling us to manage our public native forests for their important non-timber values, such as threatened species habitats – so we can avoid extinction, carbon drawdown and stores – so we mitigate the worst impacts of climate change, clean water and cultural, recreation and education hubs.

‘Victoria and Western Australia have mapped out their plan to end the logging of their native forests – it’s not a question of if but when we do this here in NSW.’

Real criminals?

‘When will the real criminals of the forest face court for their crimes against the forest and iconic species like the koalas, Yellow Bellied Gliders, the Powerful Owl and Masked Owl who rely on this forest?’ asks Valerie Thompson.

Valerie Thompson and other forest defenders in threatened forest. Photo supplied.

‘While the giant trees of Doubleduke and the wildlife who depend on them live to see another day, none of us are resting easy while Forestry Corp NSW are still in charge of these forests.

‘It’s shocking that we need to face legal action just to see into our own public forests to point out that Forestry Corp are logging in giants they have not even mapped,’ she said.

‘We have also noted over 100 “accidental” felling of trees that should be protected, and many more instances of damage to important habitat trees.

‘What it really shows is that Forestry Corp cannot be trusted to manage our state forests. The system needs to be overhauled so the vampire is not in charge of the blood bank. Here again is evidence of a brazen industry culture of rule-breaking and dodgy practice that simply must stop,’ said Ms Thompson.

‘We need a rapid transition out of native forest logging to an end this wasteful destruction for good.’

Valerie Thompson’s lawyer Eddie Lloyd. Photo supplied

An absurd situation

Lawyer for Valerie Thompson and the North East Forest Alliance, Eddie Lloyd welcomed the EPA’s decision to require Forestry Corp to stop harvesting but said it was ‘absurd that concerned citizens like Valerie had to expose these Forestry crimes when this is clearly the remit of the EPA.’

Ms Lloyd said it was even more absurd that ‘the EPA allowed Forestry to continue harvesting during the investigation period.’

She noted that her client engaged in an act of civil disobedience to protect the trees at risk of unlawful harvesting until the EPA finalised their investigation. ‘If it were not for Valerie and concerned citizens acting to expose the forestry crimes, those multi hundred year old giant trees would have been felled by Forestry Corp,’ said Ms Lloyd.

Ballina MP Tamara Smith. Photo David Lowe.

Too little too late?

Member for Ballina Tamara Smith MP, commended the EPA for placing the stop work order on the forest, but said it is another case of too little too late.

‘The Greens are committed to ending native forest logging, which is the only way these forests will be protected for the future,’ she said.

Valerie Thompson agrees. ‘We all want these magnificent old trees to continue to exist in this native forest that is right on our doorstep – along with the diversity of wildlife they are home to,’ she said.

‘By ending native forest logging, the NSW public will be secure in the knowledge that these magical forests will stand for generations to come, playing their essential role in preserving our biodiversity and climate.’

Sue Higginson MLC added, ‘With the end of La Niña we will now likely face hot dry weather over the coming years. We know that logging forests increases the frequency and intensity of wildfire through opening up and drying out the forest environment.

‘We need to listen to the science and get on with the job of regenerating our forests back to health to better prepare our environment and build landscape resilience in our changing climate. Cutting down and disturbing our native forests puts communities and our fragile biodiversity at greater risk of harm.’

Sue Higginson MLC joined protesters at Doubleduke recently. Photo supplied.

Bravery

‘I commend Ms Thompson’s bravery and I am here in Ballina today to support her,’ said Ms Higginson.

‘She stopped a logging operation which was found to be non compliant with our environmental laws. Doubleduke State Forest is home to koalas, yellow-bellied gliders, powerful and masked owls. Without forests like Doubleduke maintained and protected, we face the real risk of permanently losing these precious native species.

‘I actually can’t believe we are still logging our precious public native forests and prosecuting people like Ms Thompson,’ concluded Ms Higginson. ‘Like all the forest protesters before her, she will be vindicated when these forests are finally understood by our politicians and protected.’


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5 COMMENTS

  1. Good on you Valerie Thompson and all your active friends.
    The logging of state forests has been carried out in a very destructive , unsustainable manner for far too long, this is evident by the size of the trees harvested. Todays trees are twigs compared to the past. Too much cut too quickly and no regenerative planting will do this.

  2. Fabulous article. It’s well and truly time to end Native Forest Logging!
    The draconian anti protest laws should never have been put through in NSW or any part of Australia. They must be repealed!

    WA plan to end Native Forest Logging by 2024

    There is a Bill before the senate to do the same. Protect our forests, it’s essential for other species, old growth trees and ourselves given the pending increases in co2 etc. please pressure your Federation Representatives and Senators to pass this bill!

  3. Never forget that climate change is really, genuinely, what causes increased fire risk for our native forest ecosystems. Not logging, as evidenced by the fact that the 2019-20 wildfires burnt through long-unlogged national parks just as sure as they burned through state forests. Including impacting on rainforest ecosystems.

    Climate change is caused by burning of fossil fuels, and this (and mining) must increase to facilitate a complete shutdown of all native regrowth forest timber harvesting. Or increased harvesting of tropical rainforests in PNG, Indonesia, etc.

    Only an idiot extremist would advocate this course of action in a climate emergency.

    Real environmentalists advocate getting native forestry genuinely onto a sustainable footing, alongside good management of conservation reserves/parks for the conservation outcome.

  4. ‘NSW Forestry Corporation’, the name needs a makeover to reflect their activity – NSW Forestry Vandalism, a better fit.

  5. ‘In the past two years it has cost taxpayers $28m to log our forests and hundreds of thousands in fines and prosecutions….. showing economic irrationalism at least.

    I am so pleased we have the Forest defenders and their legal advocates exposing the NSW Govts Forestry Corps fines for regular breaches as part of that irrational financial public wastage.

    So pleased that Sue Higginson and NSW Greens are “calling on the new Labor minority Government to take a serious look at this wasteful and harmful archaic way of managing our valuable and precious public forest estate,’ and have pledged to end Deforestations consistent with all IPCC recommendations.

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