Gumbaynggirr Elders Set Up Camp To Protest Logging Plans

More than 200 people have gathered at Camp Nunguu. Photo: supplied by the Gumbaynggirr Conservation Group.

 

GUMBAYNGGIRR elders have set up ‘Camp Nunguu’ in the Newry State Forest, 40 minutes south of Coffs Harbour, in response to Forestry Corporation of NSW plans to log 657 hectares of the native forest.

Greens Legislative Council MP, David Shoebridge says that an analysis of Forestry Corporation data shows the profit from native forest logging in 2019/20 was just $28.00 a hectare, down from a high of $225.85 in 2016/17.

The Greens estimate that every hectare of native forest contains an average yield of 140 mature trees, which equates to an average profit of less than 20 cents for each mature tree logged.

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Mr Shoebridge said, “No one could look at all the damage caused to forests, waterways and wildlife by native forest logging and say that, at less than 20 cents a tree, it is a worthwhile endeavour.”

When contacted by News Of The Area, a Forestry Corporation spokesperson said, “The renewable timber harvesting operation planned for Newry State Forest in the coming months will be conducted under the legal framework of the Coastal Integrated Forestry Operations Approval.

“While Forestry Corporation respects the views and opinions of members of the community, we ask that they voice these away from active forest operation worksites as this can be dangerous for both the members of the public and the workers.”

Gumbaynggirr elders say this is the largest piece of unburnt native forest remaining in Northern NSW following the 2019 fires.

To support them, more than 200 concerned citizens attended the opening of the Newry State Forest Blockade last Saturday, April 10.

Traditional owner and Gumbaynggirr elder, Uncle Miklo Jarrett, officially opened the camp with family members.

“There is a lot of harmony and good feelings about being in the forest,” he said.

“We have people from all walks of life, such as school principals, shire councillors, solicitors, families and Gumbaynggirr elders.”

Uncle Miklo thanked the organisers of the opening and the BEC for its support on behalf of the Gumbaynggirr people and said the camp was a real team effort from everyone.

He noted that women outnumbered men at the camp and that women were taking on leadership roles in environmental protection.

“I am here not only to protect the forest but the animals within this forest,” he said.

Campers hope the opening event and ongoing blockade at Camp Nunguu will send strong messages to NSW Forestry Corporation that logging native forests will not be tolerated by surrounding communities.

They believe that native forests must be safeguarded to protect threatened species habitat and contribute to a healthier climate, as well as reducing the likelihood of large-scale bushfires in the future.

The campers say they have the support of the surrounding local communities whose vision for the Newry State Forest is the survival of precious and irreplaceable native plants and animals.

They urge everyone who values native forests, healthy waterways, animals, sacred land and their children’s future to help out now at Camp Nunguu.

Uncle Miklo told News Of The Area, “I am protecting this forest for future generations of Gumbaynggirr and non-Gumbaynggirr people.

“We have looked after the land for thousands of years and to see the forests and animals disappearing is very upsetting.

“It is now up to everyone to protect the land,” he said.

Directions and more information are available at the Facebook page of the Gumbaynggirr Conservation Group.

 

By Andrew VIVIAN

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