The NSW Government’s Forestry Corporation has today started logging in Newry State Forest on the Mid-North Coast with a heavy police presence in the ongoing conflict over the industrial logging of public native forests in NSW. Newry is critical koala habitat and is a vital part of Labor’s promised Great Koala National Park. Members of the community in support of Gumbaynggirr elders camped at the forest for nine months in 2021 during a high profile blockade that delayed the commencement of logging operations. In May this year Newry was relisted as ‘approved’ for logging and then last week became ‘active’, reigniting the battle to protect critical habitat of the endangered koala and greater glider and sacred Gumbaynggirr lands.
The State owned Forestry Corporation has installed locked steel gates around the public forest and called in NSW Police, with the first truck loads of trees spotted leaving the forest this morning under police guard. Gumbaynggir elders set up a contained and monitored sacred fire yesterday that was extinguished by Urunga Fire Brigade under direction of the NSW Police and in a violation of sacred Gumbaynggirr Lore.
“What’s happening is shocking. This is logging under martial law,” Greens MP and spokesperson for the environment said. “Newry State Forest is critical koala habitat within the public forest estate that is essential to the Great Koala National Park promised by the Labor Government. What is the community meant to do, just sit by and watch the Government’s Forestry Corporation use police to push ahead with industrial logging that ignores the community and voices of First Nations elders and their right to protect their sacred lands and will destroy this incredibly important forest?
“Newry is critical habitat to a number of forest dependent species threatened with extinction including koala, greater glider, yellow-bellied glider, masked owl, glossy black cockatoo, golden wattle and others. We cannot afford to destroy this important biodiversity hotspot. Labor promised to create the Great Koala National Park, it is socially, economically and politically misleading to now log the heart of it.
“The Government’s decision to log this forest now, in the circumstances, is dangerous and very divisive. People have vowed to stand up to protect this forest. This conflict is on the Government - they need to show leadership, to implement good policy and to stop the logging at Newry now.
“Compounding the harm is that logging our public native forests is contributing significantly to the climate crisis. Just last week the United Nations declared us to be in the era of global boiling, following the cascade of catastrophic extreme weather events, heatwaves and temperatures never recorded before in the Northern Hemisphere. Our native forests are an essential part of our frontline defence against the worsen impacts of climate change. Cutting our forests down emits large amounts of carbon every year, but leaving them standing and regenerating them draws down carbon from the atmosphere and stores it. We are literally destroying biodiversity and boiling the planet at the same time. It is so hard to comprehend what the hell the Government is doing.
“Today we have also seen the release of the World Wide Fund (WWF) Tree Scorecard that ranks NSW as the worst in the nation. It’s shameful - the Government is failing our forests, the community and our chances to fend against the climate crisis.” Ms Higginson said.
Images and videos from Newry available here.
For media comment contact Sue Higginson on 0428 227 363