Bermagui South Coast koala forest: Protest update from Harriet of Chipstop
Sent: Wednesday, October 29, 2008 6:58 PM
Subject: [chipstop] Bermi logging today
Bermi logging continued today, with the same heavy police presence as previously this week although it appears the Riot Squad may have been having a day off or even gone home..
- We discovered today that the logging contractor is Bruce Mathie and Sons. This adds to our conviction that this logging has been carefully planned to limit conservationist protests.
- Mathie is the logger who successfully sought a Supreme Court injunction against the Wandella 8, activists who formed the core of a blockade against the logging of Peak Alone (Wandella State Forest) in 2005. Injunction http://thebegavalley.org.au/4159.html
- This injunction imposes a lifelong ban on the 8 experienced and skilled activists, who are largely associated with South East Forest Rescue. ForestsNSW obviously believes that by engaging this logger to carry out the Bermagui logging, it will minimize the effectiveness of protests.
- Other developments: after some argy bargy, the police are allowing protest gatherings to continue in the mornings at the bus stop, provided various banners are moved.
- The school bus driver with the anger management problem was prevented by police from leaving his bus this morning, but this didn’t stop him shouting some gratuitous advice to the police about how they should deal with us.
- The "Harvest Plan" is finally available, although at first glance not very illuminating.
Chipstop has a new page on the website to collect together some of the information about the logging. If you think there is anything useful that could go up there, pls let me know.
POLICE WARN PROTESTORS OF ILLEGAL ACTIVITY DURING LOGGING OPERATIONS IN BERMAGUI STATE FOREST
Friday, 03 Oct 2008 09:07am
Police on the Far South Coast are warning protestors that activities during forestry logging operations which are illegal and dangerous will not be tolerated.
The Far South Coast Command has been advised that NSW Forests are to commence logging compartments of the Bermagui State Forest in late October 2008.
Superintendent Michael Willing, Far South Coast Local Area Commander said "police from the local area command and various sections, including the Public Order Operations Support Group, Highway Patrol, and Rescue Squad will be part of an operation which will be conducted in the area of the logging and will focus on ensuring the protection of persons engaged in lawful activities."
"We have received information which leads us to anticipate that a number of protestors will converge on the area. Our message to them is clear.
"We are committed to maintaining public order, and anyone who engages in unlawful or dangerous activity in or near the logging operation will have action taken against them.
"This action may be the issuing of on-the-spot fines or Court Attendance Notices, but where offences are continuing and are dangerous police will where necessary arrest and charge people," Supt Willing said.
NSW Forests advises that the state forest in which the logging operation is taking place will be closed to unauthorised persons. Entry into those closed areas is an offence.
Likewise, interference with the free movement of equipment or people within, or to and from the logging operation is also an offence. If any such offence is detected, police will be taking action.
Police have also taken the opportunity to remind everyone of some of the offences which attract On-the-spot fines.
" Trespassing into a prohibited forestry area start at $100.
" Being near harvesting or hauling equipment on-the-spot fines start at $1000.
" Intimidating Employees by preventing the free movement of equipment or people attract a fine of $5500 and or 2 years imprisonment.
" Other offences associated with disrupting a workplace also attract fines starting at $5500.
Police said they will attempt to facilitate protest requests in order to minimise the disruption, but if a hard core minority are intent on disrupting or hijacking genuine protests swift action will be taken and those involved will be removed.
Superintendent Willing said, "anyone who intends on protesting is encouraged to contact police to discuss their intentions so we can facilitate lawful activity,
"Our policing operation at the Bermagui State Forest is not focused at preventing lawful and peaceful protest as we respect people"s rights, but rather at unlawful and dangerous activity, Supt Willing said.
Bermagui State Forest Koala Survey
Extract from NSW Legislative Council Hansard and Papers Tuesday 28
October 2008 (Proof).
BERMAGUI STATE FOREST KOALA SURVEY
Mr IAN COHEN: My question is directed to the Minister for Primary
Industries. Can he explain the process behind the new koala survey
method used in surveying Bermagui State Forest compartments 2004 and
2005? To what extent did the survey find evidence of the presence of
koalas, which of course is koala droppings? Can he advise what actions
he or Forests New South Wales will take against contractors if they
failed to halt logging upon the sighting of koalas?
The Hon. IAN MACDONALD: I thank Mr Ian Cohen for his question. Over a
period the honourable member has raised issues relevant to forestry, and
basically his position seems to be that we should cease native forestry
activity in many parts of the State. I point out to him that round the
turn of the century, a number of agreements were struck which led to a
massive 5.5 million hectares of State Forest land being incorporated
within the National Estate, so there has been a significant transfer of
The Hon. Marie Ficarra: What about the koalas?
The Hon. IAN MACDONALD: I will come to koalas in a minute. I will
answer the question my way, thank you. The issue is that there is a
relatively small percentage of that former State Forest estate held by
Forest New South Wales to meet 20-year wood supply agreements under a
Forestry Industry Structural Adjustment Program [FISAP] entered into in
recent years. Those agreements have led to the regeneration of the
industry and considerable improvements in the technology employed in
activities of the region. In relation to the Bermagui State Forest, it
is a 183-hectare forest. It was logged selectively 20 years ago and
clear-felled some time before that. It is not an old growth forest.
Secondly, an extensive survey was undertaken by Forests New South Wales.
I believe it is a very scientific and well-balanced study and it shows
that there was no permanent colony of koalas in that area.
In relation to the spotting of koalas, the practice would lead to the
assessment of that colony, and I believe that would be checked out and
monitored. The point is that we need to supply in accordance with wood
supply agreements. They are 20-year agreements and they have a fair
amount of time left. Many workers are involved on the South Coast and
indeed on the North Coast in this industry. If we were to pull out from
providing this hardwood, given that the demand for timber is not
decreasing despite the economic downturn*there is still a lot of
demand for timber products in New South Wales*it would lead to
increased importation of timber. That timber most likely would come from
South-East Asia or Brazil, or one of the countries the environmental
protocols of which are far inferior to protocols that are available and
enforced in New South Wales in relation to the selective harvesting of
We are committed to sustainable harvesting of the remaining forest. We
do not believe the koalas are under threat. We believe that that is a
furphy that has been put about by people who have no evidence. I have
seen their statements relating to the south-east forests. There is no
scientific evidence. Forest New South Wales is right. It has done the
I believe the forest is being sustainably logged.
Mr IAN COHEN: I ask a supplementary question. The Minister clearly said
that the department is committed to logging in that area. Does the
Minister agree that the export of woodchips, described by a former
Federal Minister as "a bastard of an industry", is absolutely
overcommitting the resources of that area?
The Hon. IAN MACDONALD: Again, the member states an inaccuracy. These
forests are valuable saw logs used for a number of different products
that are in high demand.
Mr Ian Cohen: It is the wood chipping*
The Hon. IAN MACDONALD: Wait a second! The woodchip component of it is
in the field of residues, and that is created in the process of felling
these trees. No timber company would convert saw logs to woodchip. That
is just economically insane.
Bermagui State Forest Logging Protests
Extract from NSW Legislative Council Hansard and Papers Tuesday 28
October 2008 (Proof).
Ms LEE RHIANNON: I direct my question to the Minister for Police. Did
officers stationed at Batemans Bay police station in collaboration with
Forest New South Wales hold a meeting at the Bermagui Country Club in
September to warn locals associated with calling for forest protection
not to protest when logging commenced in the Bermagui State Forests?
Does the holding of this meeting reflect that Batemans Bay police
officers have adopted a zero tolerance policing approach to forest
protesters? Considering that since logging started in Bermagui State
Forest on 27 October with a group of about 40 protesters gathered in the
vicinity, about 15 police cars, more than 20 police, including members
of the Public Order and Riot Squad, a mobile police command bus and two
police rescue vans have been in attendance, will this level of policing
continue for the coming six weeks of logging in this area? What is the
anticipated cost of this operation?
The Hon. TONY KELLY: The Far South Coast Local Area Command of the New
South Wales Police Force has been advised that New South Wales Forests
is to commence logging compartments of Bermagui State Forest later this
month. As in the past, protests are expected. As always, the New South
Wales Police Force is committed to maintaining public order. For this
reason, local police and various commands, including the Public Order
and Riot Squad, Highway Patrol and Rescue Squad will join together to
conduct an operation. This operation will focus on ensuring the
protection of persons engaged in lawful activities. Local police have
made it clear that anyone engaging in unlawful or dangerous activity in
or near the logging operation will have action taken against them. When
offences continue and are considered dangerous, police will arrest and
charge people as necessary. Police respect people's rights to protest
during these times; in no way are they looking to prevent lawful and
peaceful protests. Police have asked anyone who intends to protest to
contact them so that they can attempt to facilitate lawful activity,
minimise disruption and focus on protecting the safety of everyone
27 October 2008
Logging started in Bermagui State Forest compartments 2004/5 today.
1. The arrival of the logging crew was preceded by at least 12 police vehicles, one a sinister looking black "riot control" vehicle, one an 18 seater bus (empty), several paddy wagons (empty), police rescue, a police communications bus to, inter alia intercept our mobile phone calls and various other police 4WDs. There were possibly others which came from the Cobargo direction which we did not see.
2. About 50 conservationists assembled at the bus stop on the corner of the Wallaga Lake Rd and the Cobargo Rd from 7am. This central point was selected because we did not know exactly where the logging was to start.
3. The roadside boundary for the 2 compartments is 12 kms long, with multiple entry points. It was next to impossible to predict where they would enter as ForestsNSW had failed to:
- mark up any areas other than visual protection strips
- erect any "prohibited zone" signs, as required if they are to invoke SF security Regs.
- release a full Harvest Plan, explaining in detail areas to be logged. Only the maps had been supplied to members of the Biamanga and Gulaga NP boards.
4. Police vehicles assembled at Box Flat Road, off the Cobargo Rd near the council water tank, on which some thoughtful person has recently painted a large "no woodchipping" message.
5. At about 8am semi-trailers were observed entering Box Flat Road carrying logging machinery. We were not able to tell which contractor has been engaged to do this logging.
6. One of our people went to the Box Flat Rd corner on his motor bike to investigate and to film, but was told by police to leave "as he was in a prohibited zone" (not true because there were no signs, as required).
7. By about 11.30am some "prohibited zone" signs had appeared along the roadside boundaries of the logging compartments.
8. No chainsaw or tree felling noises can be heard from the road as they have started at the far end of Box Flat, closest to the river and furthest from the road.
9. As loggers left this afternoon two private security guards arrived to camp overnight near logging machinery.
10. Another highlight: the school bus driver stopping to pick up a couple of kids left his bus in a rage, grabbed several of our placards and threw them towards the road. Shouting angrily, he tore down and damaged a banner attached to the bus stop, using words that had attracted a $150 fine for one of the activists in Bega Local Court two weeks ago.
MEDIA STATEMENT 26 October 2008
NSW and Victoria collude to limit forest protests
Conservationists have accused the NSW and Victorian Governments of colluding to limit forest protests in south east NSW and East Gippsland.
"The two states have timed highly controversial logging operations to start at exactly the same time," according to the convener of the forest activist group, Chipstop, Ms Harriett Swift.
"We learned on Friday that the long awaited logging of Bermagui State Forest will start on Monday within hours of hearing that bulldozers were moving onto Brown Mountain in East Gippsland.
The Bermagui logging has been the subject of pro-active preparations by the NSW Police who have threatened a zero tolerance approach to protesters.
Brown Mountain is part of the Snowy catchment and much prized by conservationists for its 'valley of giants'.
"Forestry agencies clearly intend that the simultaneous logging operations will ensure that skilled activists from one state may not be available to assist colleagues in the other," Ms Swift said.
"It may be no coincidence that these logging operations come hard on the heels of widely reported attacks on conservationists attempting to save Tasmanian forests last week. NSW and Victorian forestry agencies may also expect these attacks to have drawn some activists away from this region," she said.
Ms Swift said that it is a pity that NSW and Victoria can"t manage this level of co-operation on useful activities such as saving the Murray River.
26 October 2008
Posted by editor
at 8:33 PM NZT
Updated: Wednesday, 29 October 2008 9:08 PM NZT