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September 25, 2023

Town meeting tonight at Bellingen as locals keep pressure on loggers at Newry State Forest

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Brendan Scotts was arrested yesterday after locking onto a harvester at Newry State Forest. Photo supplied

Local man Brendan Scotts locked on to a harvester yesterday morning in Newry State Forest, stopping logging at the site. In the meantime the NSW Forestry Corporation’s plans to start logging the head of the Kalang River have led to a Bellingen town meeting to be held tonight at 6pm at the Bellingen Showgrounds.

This is the sixth day the community has slowed down logging operations at Newry State Forest. The Bellingen Activist Network (BAN) disrupted logging in Newry State Forest every day last week, with four people arrested in total. 

Currently police are escorting logging trucks in and out of the forest, with community pressure affecting the daily operations of Forestry’s industrial-scale logging.

Brendan said he took this action because Forestry Corporation’s NSW industrial logging of Newry State Forest is ignoring the call of Gumbaynggirr elders, fuelling climate change and pushing threatened wildlife to the brink of extinction. 

‘I wish that our children will get to experience the richness and the beauty that we’ve got to experience in our lifetime. Our ancestors understood the responsibility to protect land and water and we must remember before it’s too late,’ said Brendan. 

Coffs Harbour Police removed Brendan and took him to the Coffs Harbour Police Station at around 9am yesterday to be charged. He was held until around 12 noon.

Logging has recommenced at the Newry State Forest with Bellingen Activist Network spokesperson, Dean Curtis, telling The Echo that, ‘We have only been able to slow them down with these actions. The community presence is strong but it doesn’t look like they are going to stop logging any time soon.’

Yesterday MLC Sue Higginson (Greens) was at the camp and has told forest protectors that she has been in contact with relevant ministers about the ongoing logging of the areas in the proposed Great Koala National Park (GKNP). However, it appears ministers are unwilling to act to stop the logging currently underway and proposed.

‘It appears that they are trying to get as much out of the GKNP area as they can before the GKNP is put in place,’ said Dean. 

Kalang River headwaters. Photo Kalang River Forest Alliance

‘Town Hall ‘meeting

The proposed logging of the Kalang River Headwaters by the NSW Forestry Corporation has led to a ‘town hall’ meeting  tonight at the Bellingen Showground at 6pm. The meeting is being put on by the Bellingen Environment Centre. The logging site is about half an hour away from the current Newry State Forest camp. 

‘There are old growth trees up there that they are planning to log,’ said Dean. 

‘The community is really concerned about the impact this will have.’

Dean told The Echo that there is a lot of local support for their actions against native forest logging and a lot of Gumbaynggirr Elders have been coming out to camp in support.

‘We held Forest Fest, a music festival, two weeks ago to raise money for the ‘stop native forest logging’ campaigns and we raised around $10,000,’ he said.

Aunty Alison and Aunty Lauren on Gumbaynggirr Country at Newry State Forest. Photo supplied

End native forest logging

The Bellingen Activist Network is calling for an immediate end to all industrial logging in NSW native forests. Western Australian and Victoria have committed to ending native forest logging. 

‘The vast majority of the public want to see native forests protected and BAN is currently experiencing more and more everyday people requesting to be upskilled to take direct actions locally to protect the forests,’ said Dean.

‘Forestry will tell you their sustainable harvesting myths, but the science is on our side. We need to leave mature forests alone for threatened species and climate change and yet Forestry NSW is targeting the GKNP proposed area, logging chunks into hundreds of hectares of critical koala habitat.  

‘They have flattened Orara East, Boambee and Moonpar State Forests recently, and are now moving into Newry and Oakes. How is logging that much viable native forest sustainable?’

Nationwide action on native forest logging

Protests against the logging of native forests are taking place around the country from 10 to 12 August as part of a nationwide three-day campaign being put together by the Bob Brown Foundation. 

A rally will be held at Coffs Harbour on Friday, 11 August at 10am at Brelsford Park opposite Coles. A rally will be held in Lismore this Saturday, 12 August at 12 noon at the Lismore Quadrangle, Magellan Street. Rallies are also taking place in Ulludulla, Melbourne, Sydney, Perth and Brisbane. To register or learn more about the Rally for Forests Campaign, go to https://defendthegiants.org/events.

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