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. Mr 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.
“It’s time to stop this nonsense. 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.
“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.
“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.
“I commend Ms Thompson's bravery and I am here in Ballina today to support her. 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. Like all the forest protesters before her, she will be vindicated when these forests are finally understood by our politicians and protected.” Ms Higginson said.
For media comment contact: Sue Higginson on 0428 227 363