Demonstrators blockade Bellingen to protest native forest logging

Protestors block Bellingen’s main street.


CONCERNED locals, koalas and the ‘Red Rebels’ blocked the main street of Bellingen on the morning of Monday 25 October.

The demonstrators said they wanted to bring attention to the issue of logging in public native forests in the lead up to the COP26 Climate Summit in Glasgow.

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John Merkel, spokesperson for the group said, “Thousands of hectares of our nearby public native forests are due to be logged in the next year and we think it’s criminal that forests are being decimated in a climate emergency when we need to be increasing forest cover to draw down carbon.

“Native forests remove carbon dioxide from the air more effectively than anything else on land; they moderate temperature and keep Bellingen’s drinking water clean and they do this best when they’re left alone.”

Mr Merkel said, “I grew up in the area, trained locally and worked in the building industry.

“Back when I started, forest harvesting was about selective logging of quality timber – now it’s about selling large logs cheaply, so I would question the economics of current practices, before we even consider the environmental issues.”

Mr Merkel said that local timber workers are being let down by governments because there is no transition plan for them and their communities.

“Governments like to pit timber workers against conservationists, but jobs are lost in what could be a sustainable timber industry every time a truck leaves the area with wood that is turned into cardboard boxes or ‘biofuel’.

“People are being sold the idea that biofuel is some sort of green fuel from scraps, but you would need a five-year plantation cycle to feed it, and the reality is that plantations are on a 30-year cycle,” he said.

“Biofuel companies will inevitably need other sources, which means native forests.”

Mr Merkel said community opposition to public native forest logging in the Bellingen shire has grown significantly in recent years, as tensions between government and citizens concerned about deforestation and climate change have intensified.

He said that Bellingen township was only just spared from the Black Summer bushfires and this brought the reality of climate change into the heart of the community.

Mr Merkel said, “The proven answers are already here for new energy sources, and biofuel isn’t one of them.

“Forest blockades like the ones in Kalang and Newry State Forest have been established to stave off further logging incursions in public native forests as community awareness grows around their importance as habitat for native species and as one of the most efficient carbon capture and storage systems, provided by nature itself.”


By Andrew VIVIAN

One thought on “Demonstrators blockade Bellingen to protest native forest logging

  1. Why not put BALANCE into your reportage? Checkout the independent study which showed that logging DID NOT affect koalas. Too many green eyed activist ‘reporters’ up your way.

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