Police shut down month-long forest blockade

A BLOCKADE set up by local environmentalists to prevent the logging of Gladstone State Forest has been dismantled.
A BLOCKADE set up by local environmentalists to prevent the logging of Gladstone State Forest has been dismantled. Contributed

A MONTH-LONG blockade at Gladstone State Forest near Bellingen has been dismantled after multiple police wagons arrived on the scene Tuesday morning.

The blockade, located at the Sunny Corner road access, had prevented large logging machinery gaining access to the forest for almost five weeks.

Forestry Corporation of NSW commenced a logging operation on the site on February 12.

NSW Greens MP Dawn Walker criticised Forestry Corporation of NSW's decision to bring in police in State Parliament yesterday.

"This was a peaceful community response to an outdated and destructive Government approach to managing our precious forests" said Dawn Walker MP.

"The fact that vital koala habitat can be lawfully logged in this day and age is as stupid as it is outrageous.

"I congratulate the community for taking a stand to try and stop logging operations as the Government is clearly beholden to big logging interests.

"The Greens will be doing everything we can to make the need for Great Koala National Park an issue in the upcoming state election to be held in March next year" said Dawn Walker MP.

Forestry Corporation of NSW has defended the logging operation, saying 60% of the area has been set aside for conservation purposes.

"Police have attended a small protest set-up on a public road outside of Gladstone State Forest impeding trucks hauling timber from leaving the forest to deliver logs to local mills," the spokesperson said.

"The operation to selectively harvest trees has been thoroughly planned by experienced and qualified staff. As a result, 60 per cent of the area is set aside for conservation purposes, such as wildlife corridors, rainforest protections and to protect soil and water values. We have also identified an area to be set aside as a koala high use area based on historic and recent records.

"After timber harvesting, the forest will be regenerated to provide a renewable timber resource for future generations as well as ongoing habitat for koalas, which thrive in forests with young healthy regrowth trees. The fact that our production forests continue to support robust koala populations demonstrates the measures we have in place are providing protection for this important native species."

Local environmentalists have announced they will now move onto the next stage of their campaign to end logging of the forests surrounding the headwaters of the Kalang River, and to establish the Great Koala National Park.

"We have an ongoing range of actions planned starting with a protest next Wednesday on International day of Forests and a film premiere at Kalang on the following Saturday evening. More direct actions are also planned," Bellingen Environment Centre's Ashley Love said.

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