Protester Halts Logging In Ellis State Forest By Locking On To Harvester

Carly Flemming risks jail by halting logging in Ellis State Forest.

ON Monday morning, August 29, logging by Forestry Corporation (FCNSW) in Ellis State Forest, west of Coffs Harbour was halted.

A 31-year-old woman had locked herself onto a harvester, immobilising the logging machine.

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The protester, Carly Flemming, a Bellingen Shire local, said, “I am devastated that those in power are choosing inaction in the face of an undeniable species extinction.

“They make a mockery out of all of us as they fund an unprofitable industry that is destroying precious koala habitat, ruining our waterways and fuelling the climate crisis.”

The Bellingen Activist Network is concerned that FCNSW is continuing to log native forests in the midst of what it says is an extinction crisis, pushing species like the koala towards a point of no return.

The Network demands that native forests are safeguarded from the “unruly behaviour of Forestry Corporation NSW (FCNSW)” to protect threatened wildlife, waterways and the climate.

Activists say that Ellis State Forest has been identified as a core habitat for one of the largest populations of koalas on the North Coast.

The demands come on the back of the recently released State of the Environment report which found that Australia has lost more mammal species than any other continent, and has one of the highest rates of species decline in the world.

More than 100 Australian species have been listed as either extinct or extinct in the wild, with loss of habitat listed as one of the key drivers.

“We need to see an end to native forest logging immediately,” Ms Flemming said.

“Current contracts and obligations should be cancelled, with impacted workers transitioning into more secure work.”

Ms Flemming cited recent media coverage of logging on the Coffs Coast and prosecutions of FCNSW for breaches of environmental regulations to support her protest.

“Non-violent direct action has been used successfully for decades to challenge the systems that destroy nature for profit.

“Australia has lost more mammal species than any other continent on Earth.

“If we don’t take bolder action, who will?

“It is absolutely time for communities to step up and take matters into their own hands.”

Ms Flemming was removed from the machinery and taken to Grafton police station.

Direct action was continued on Tuesday, when Michael Jones also locked himself on to machinery, halting work.

“As an ecologist, I’m taking action today as I’m extremely aware that in Australia around 90 percent of our mammal species, reptile species and frog species, and about 50 percent of our bird species, are found nowhere else in the world,” Mr Jones said.

The Bellingen Activist Network said it will continue to support the community across Gumbaynggirr Country and take direct action to protect life, water and culture.

In a social media statement on Tuesday, Timber NSW, a representative organisation of the timber and forest products industry in NSW, complained about the stop work orders and warned the public not to be fooled by “eco activists”.

“They like to convince the public they are heroes saving nature – claiming ecology credentials and using emotive language like ‘industrial logging’ and animal extinctions. Totally without scientific merit,” the statement said.

“They refuse to answer the one question,” the statement continued.

“If there is 7.5 million hectares of national park and conservation reserves in NSW now and less than 800,000 hectares used for selective harvesting in state forests of which less than 2 percent is harvested each year and then regenerated – why is the massive protected park and reserve system not working for fauna and flora?”

The Timber NSW statement accused so-called “forest protectors” of “vile trolling and stalking of forest workers”.

“There are hard working families in the forest and timber industry, many who are from families who are third and fourth generation forestry businesses spanning more than 100 years who have the legal right to work.

“It’s time for the same laws to protect forest work sites in NSW that have just been enacted by the Labor Govt in Victoria and the Liberal Govt in Tasmania.”

By Andrew VIVIAN

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