Forest Rescue Australia (FRA) has heightened its protest actions halting Warrup logging on an almost daily basis - however at the price of arrests. A Forest Products Commission (FPC) spokeswoman confirmed that protestors had entered work areas on three separate days in the last ten days and on two occasions had locked themselves on to two logging machines while work continued in other parts of the operation.
On Monday 19, FRA protestors entered the Warrup logging area and one protestor managed to lock himself on to a logging machine for 15 hours.
FRA coordinator, Simon Peterffy said he was disappointed at the arrest of protestors. He said usually the police moved on the protestors and preferred not to arrest anyone. "On Monday, disappointingly the police swooped and arrested a number of folk who were only doing their civic and just duty to protect the forests and the numbat colony. We never do anything criminal, that's not us," said Mr Peterffy.
Mr Peterffy said that five protestors were charged by Bridgetown Police on the Monday for trespass. "We did not trespass, no-one told anyone to leave, and we will refuse bail conditions and take this straight to a hearing."
The police confiscated $2,000 worth of video equipment and film footage - "They should not have done this, and with this is our evidence-gathering and evidence of the Forest Product Commission's wrong-doing, they're the ones breaking all the rules," he said.
Mr Peterffy said that the protestors are here to stay and that they should not be underestimated in terms of their vigilance to put themselves right on the line to protect the forests and threatened species. "If we don't then who will? We have set up a base near Bridgetown and there are more than 20 FRA activists there at any one time." He said that resources and donations are coming in from many sources including state and federal politicians.
"We have saved forests in these parts before, in 1998 and in 2002, so people can't go around saying that what we do isn't right or doesn't get results when in fact some of the forests left for them to enjoy and view is because of us, past and present activists," he said.
FRA coordinator Simon Peterffy said logging in Warrup is endangering the largest remaining numbat habitat in the south west. The Department of Environment and Conservation (DEC) refutes this - a spokeswoman said that measures are taken to protect numbat habitats and numbats are not harmed.
On Monday March 12 the FRA activists entered Warrup to stop the logging and that they confronted the small team of contracted loggers. Mr Peterffy said that a couple of the workers tried to 'intimidate' the activists by driving a bulldozer towards them. The FPC has an on site FPC supervisor to manage operations.
"(One of our activitists) managed to 'lock on' to a log loader. A young female activist thumb locked herself to the front of a machine which effectively stopped work for the duration of the 'lock on'," said Mr Peterffy.
On Wednesday morning, March 14, Mr Peterffy said the FRA returned to Warrup. "Three activists 'locked on' to logging machines." This brought logging to a halt for several hours till Bridgetown police arrived.
"Three activists locked on to a slider and a loader, stopping work, costing the FPC profits, saving the numbat habitat for another day," said Mr Peterffy.
"The loggers have started to think this is all a big game, using their machinery like toddlers, Tonka trucks... intimidating protestors who are using non-violent protest to prevent ecocide," he said.
Mr Peterffy said the FRA will make complaints to various authorities and that the FRA will upload a 6 minute YouTube clip of the confrontations. He said he had already handed footage to the police and WorkSafe.
Bunbury-based South West District police Inspector Geoff Stewart said he saw no evidence of assault by the FPC contracted workers. "What it does show is inappropriate activity of the protestors in impeding the lawful activity being carried out."
"People on both sides should not feel unsafe... I am talking to both sides, people have got to keep a cool head."
"(The police) are still saying we support everyone's right to protest as long as it's in a lawful and peaceful manner," said Inspector Stewart.
Inspector Stewart said reports that logging activity was being halted by the protest actions is inaccurate nor that protest actions are daily.
On March 20, another three protestors entered Warrup, one of them locked on to a loader for more than 24 hours, and endured the night. All three were arrested and charged. On March 21, Mr Peterffy was the keynote speaker at a rally at state parliament and he highlighted the courage of the activists in Warrup.
10 truckloads of logs leave Warrup each day. The FPC has confirmed that it is half way to the production of 3,000 tonnes of logs from Warrup in this twelve week effort.
International Year of Forests - 2011
Western Australian Forest Alliance
Help us save the Warrup forest
Bridgetown-Greenbushes Friends of the Forest
Forest Rescue Direct Action
"With an ever evolving unique style of Non-Violent Direct Action, Forest Rescue has been highly instrumental in saving large tracts of south west forests."
There are four dominant tree species throughout Australia's South West - jarrah, karri, tingle and tuart. All are unique to Western Australia and support a diverse range of fauna and other flora species in their associated forests. A great way to explore the region’s forests is by following one of the many sign-posted scenic drives. Some sections of these drives are on gravel roads, so please drive carefully and pay attention to road and weather conditions.
The diverse ecosystem of the jarrah forest is named after the dominant tree species 'jarrah' (Eucalyptus marginata). Jarrah trees grow up to 40 metres in height (130 feet) and can live up to 1,000 years. Its long, straight trunk of richly coloured and beautifully grained timber make it perfect for woodworking, and because it’s very durable, it’s also used as a structural material for building. For this reason, around half of the original jarrah forests that covered 3.9 million hectares from Perth to the South West have been destroyed by extensive logging and clearing for agriculture.
The jarrah forests that remain are home to a wide variety of flora and fauna species, including 150 birds, 29 mammals, 45 reptiles and over 1,200 plants and wildflowers. Excellent examples of jarrah forest can be found at the Collie River Valley and around the town of Nannup.
The Southern Forests area of Australia's South West is well known for its majestic karri forests. Typically found between Manjimup and Denmark, the smooth-barked karri tree (Eucalyptus diversicolor) grows up to 90 metres in height, making it the tallest tree in Western Australia and one of the world's tallest hardwood trees.
Other tree species that shelter beneath the mighty karri include the peppermint tree, so-called for the peppermint-like smell of its leaves when crushed, and the delicate karri sheoak. Come spring, a stunning display of wildflowers colours the forest, with the blues of tree hovea and native wisteria contrasting with the cream flowers of old man's beard and star-shaped crowea. The Brockman, Beedelup, Gloucester and Warren National Parks are excellent examples of these beautiful forests.
The Walpole-Nornalup National Park is the only place where the red tingle tree (Eucalyptus Jacksonii) is found. This buttressed, rough barked tree can live over 400 years and grows up to 75 metres in height, and with a girth of up to 26 metres, they have the largest base of all the eucalypts. There is also a yellow tingle tree (Eucalyptus guilfoyle) which doesn't grow as wide as the red tingle tree.
While tingle trees are often hollowed out by fire and fungal attack, their robust structure allows them to continue growing. An excellent example of this is the Giant Tingle Tree near Walpole. The Valley of the Giants Tree Top Walk gives visitors a different perspective of the tingle forest from 38 metres above the forest floor.
Tuart forest is one of the rarest ecosystems left on Earth and is only found along the Swan Coastal Plain, from Jurien Bay to Busselton in Western Australia. The dominant species within this forest is the tuart tree (Eucalyptus gomphocephala). Tuarts are characterised by grey bark and elongated, spiral-shaped leaves. They can grow up to 33 metres high, 10 metres in girth and live over 500 years. In the 1830s tuart timber was highly valued by millrights, shipwrights and wheelrights, as it is almost impossible to split or splinter the timber.
The tuart forest within Australia's South West is protected by the Tuart Forest National Park and is the largest area of pure tuart remaining in the world. The park is also home to a number of rare and endangered species including the Carnaby's black cockatoo, chuditch, brush-tailed phascogale, western ring-tailed possum and brush wallaby.
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