Updated: February 11, 2013
Conservationists face mass arrests at Toolangi under new forest protest laws
Media Release: Tuesday 12 February, 2013
The distressed community of Toolangi have organised a mass walk-in to nearby rainforest undergoing clear-fell logging. Today's protest is the first action in this region since Premier Baillieu toughened up laws targeting people concerned about logging a fortnight ago and arrests are expected.
Today dozens of people are walking into rainforest near Mt Tanglefoot, in sight of Toolangi, despite the changes to laws, which now make it an offence for people to be merely present in an area scheduled for or undergoing logging.
The local ' 'Knitting Nannas' for forests are knitting a 150 metre scarf – the length of the arrestable public exclusion zone around logging operations.
'Criminalising people's very presence in areas that are being logged is a blatant attempt to prevent public scrutiny of unlawful logging, and controversial logging operations in threatened species habitat,' said Lawyers for Forests spokesperson, Danya Jacobs.
‘Recent court cases to challenge unlawful logging have relied on conservation volunteers being able to access these forests to monitor threatened species and look for logging breaches,' said Ms Jacobs.
Mt Tanglefoot contains stands of Cool Temperate Rainforest, which are protected by law. Despite this, monitoring by volunteer ecologists reveals that logging activity has already taken place unlawfully inside the rainforest buffers. Further monitoring will be undertaken today.
'In the last couple of years we have seen more 60 charges laid as people express their concern about logging operations near Toolangi, where threatened wildlife habitat is being logged and pulped to make Reflex paper,' said Victorian Forest Campaigner for the Wilderness Society, Amelia Young.
'It is a testament to the strength of community opposition that the Baillieu Government has resorted to strengthen laws to attempt to bully the public out of acting to defend our unique forests,’ said local Toolangi resident and Knitting Nanna, Lynn Dean.
'The Baillieu government is disregarding scientists who warn that logging threatens the survival of our state wildlife emblem, the Fairy (Leadbeater’s) Possum. Now the state government has acted to criminalise the local community, but this controversy will not just go away. These forests are vital habitat, and are too precious to pulp for paper,' said Ms Young.
The rainforest logging at Mt Tanglefoot takes place after an out of court settlement regarding unlawful rainforest logging between the Department of Sustainability & Environment and Vicforests last year.
'Despite Vicforests' undertaking to provide extra training to ensure that rainforest areas are accurately surveyed and are not logged, we are again seeing rainforest damaged by chainsaws and bulldozers, in breach of the law,' said Ms Young.
For more information, please contact:
The Wilderness Society Tasmania Inc
130 Davey Street, TAS, 7000 Australia
Phone: (03) 6224 1550 | Fax: (03) 6223 5112