Forest Rescue will protect Warrup at all costs - hero activists from the forests, to the Kimberley, to the seas

Forest Rescue will protect Warrup at all costs

(south west newspaper article)

Gerry Georgatos

Bridgetown-Greenbushes Friends of the Forest (BGFF) have long warned that Warrup is in danger of being imminently logged. Conservation groups state wide have committed to protecting Warrup at all costs, even if it means arrests.

The very busy Forest Rescue Australia (FRA) activists will come in strong numbers to protect Warrup and any other south west forests. Forest Rescue coordinator, Simon Peterffy recently visited Warrup and said, "We will be here in numbers to the protect Warrup and all south western forests. We will protect the trees in the ways we have to, at all costs, as we do wherever we go, and when all else fails, when governments and authorities aren't prepared to hear all those that come before us, like the BGFF and the WAFA (Western Australian Forest Alliance)."

When it comes to protecting mother nature the FRA mean business. Three of Forest Rescue's activists are being held on a Japanese whaling ship off the coast of Western Australia.

Three FRA activists boarded the Shonan Maru 2, a security ship that is part of the Japanese whaling fleet, early Sunday morning helped along by a team from the Sea Shephard Conservation Society.

The Shonan Maru had been shadowing the Sea Shephard ship, Steve Irwin, since Christmas Day, in a bid to protect its whale poaching.

The Shonan Maru was near Bunbury when Geoffrey Tuxworth, 47, of Perth, Simon Peterffy, 44, of Bunbury and Glen Pendlebury, 27, of Fremantle sailed out from Bunbury and met up with a Steve Irwin ancillary vessel, 16.2 nautical miles off the coast. They then headed to the Shonan Maru and the three boarded the boat under the cover of darkness and negotiated their way past razor wire and spikes and climbed over the rails.

Mr Peterffy came with an FRA message to the captain of the Shonan Maru 2, "Return us to shore in Australia and then remove yourself from our waters." Mr Peterffy said it was disgraceful that the Shonan Maru could come into Australian waters without being expelled by the Australian government. His statement to the Shonan Maru included, "We as Forest Rescue are insulted and disappointed in our government for allowing the transit of whale poaching vessels in Australian waters."

Sea Shepherd captain Paul Watson said they are more than likely being held captive on the Shonan Maru 2 and may be transported to Japan to face a hostile news media and trial. Captain Watson said, "We've put the Japanese into a difficult position and I don't think they know what to do, whether to take them back to shore or to Japan. All hell will break loose if they take off with them."

Forest Rescue spokesperson Michael Montgomery said he feared the three were being held prisoner.

70 people coalesced at the old Bridgetown railway station and then by a bus and car pools went into Warrup for a twilight information event on December 10.

In the hub of the forest BGFF President, Richard Wittenoom said, "Today, we were told either Warrup or Arcadia will be done with, so it's one or the other. We need significant community support to save Warrup. What you see around you may soon be gone, all of it."

Warrup and Arcadia forest campaigners understand that the decision 'will come any day' as to which forest shall be logged. Bridgetown's long term Warrup campaigner Russ Catomore said, "In the end we will fight for it, because if we don't we will just lose it. If we have to we will come out here in a picket line and with the support of many and do what we have to do."

Forest Rescue campaigners Simon Peterffy and Cameron Johnson said they will turn up in numbers to protect Warrup and Arcadia. Forest Rescue have become well renowned throughout Australia for a number of campaigns, sometimes leading to their arrests, and were recently in the Kimberley to protect James Price Point from the gas hub proposal. Recently, during the CHOGM they had been banned by police from entering the 'security exclusion zones' in the Perth CBD as police feared the tactics they are known to use, for example handcuffing themselves to trees and tractors and setting up long term blockades.

Currently, in Perth the City of Canning has committted to plans to cut down 158 trees and Forest Rescue came to the aid of community members trying to save the trees and the endangered Forest Red-tailed and Carnaby Black Cockatoos. Some climbed the trees and committed to vigils and others tied themselves to underneath vehicles carrying tree loppers. Some of them were arrested and others issued with move on notices however this does not seem to have deterred them. The police Tactical Response group had to be called in.

Forest Rescue's Cameron Johnson who spent five months protesting and blockading against the gas hub proposal at James Price Point north of Broome, said, "This is a very important feeding habitat for Carnaby and Red-tailed Cockatoos, they are both critically endangered."

Glen Pendlebury was at this protest and was issued with a move on notice. He is now one of the three activists on board the Shonan Maru.

At the save the trees and cockatoos protest Mr Pendlebury said, "I will get a criminal record for this however the council are the criminals."

Though now on the Shonan Maru, while in Warrup Mr Peterffy said, "We will stand with with local communities between the bulldozer and imminent destruction of our precious forests. With our unique style of non-violent direct action, Forest Rescue has been highly successful in saving large tracts of our south west."

The Conservation Council's director Piers Verstegen has commmitted their support and presence to Warrup, and so have Jess Beckerling and Rob Versluis of the Western Australian Forest Alliance.

The Human Rights Alliance Natalie Flower said, "We will come to Warrup in numbers to protect this bastion and prevent further decimation to the ecosystems." She said it is ironic that 2011 has been the United Nations International Year of the Forests while relatively little had been done to protect the forests."

"We have to stand up for Warrup and Arcadia because in the end we are destroying habitats. Palm Oil soaps almost destroyed most of the habitats of the Orang-utans till the business founder of the palm oil factories realised the damage occurring and at least changed his ways, however our governments, made up of ordinary people merely elected to their offices with little expert knowledge of anything and others similarly working for government agencies merely to earn a quid, do as just as horrific damage to south west forests and the ecosystems within them with unnecessary or excessive logging. The Human Rights Alliance will add hefty numbers to any civil protest and blockade in and around Warrup if it means saving the trees and the ecosystems. It is our duty," said Ms Flower.

United Nations Assocation WA Environment committee convenor, Paul Elkington said, "WA has some unique forest habitats... An example includes the large timber forests in our south west that are amongst the oldest in the world. They are at risk as we have vastly decreased these areas through land clearing as the population has expanded."

According to the United Nations, forests cover 31% of the world's total land mass, however this figure is decreasing each year. Forests store more than 1 trillion tons of carbon, and have a capacity to store up to 25% of the world's carbon, however if they are halved within a century this will add to the world's temperatures and rising seas. Over 1.6 billion people's livelihoods depend on forests. Forests are home to 80% of the terrestrial biodiversity. Forests are home to 300 million people around the world. Deforestation accounts for 12 to 20% of the global greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global warming.

Six years ago lawyer, Daniel Iacopetta and his partner relocated to just outside Bridgetown for the forests, simpler living and authentic community settings. He said, "We are walking through forests that soon we will not be able to walk again. This is really sad. Our two daughters were born in Bridgetown, and we love it here."

"This may not be my eloquent best, however it is b/s that they should even be contemplating logging these forests. It's madness and of no foresight, as if those to come after us do not matter. I live right by these forests." Mr Iacopetta and his partner bought his land right by the state forest.