Forest Rescue heighten protest actions to save forests - however many arrests

Gerry Georgatos
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.

Jarrah Forest

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.

Karri Forest

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.

Tingle Forest

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

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.
The disappearing rainforests
Destruction in the Amazon



The concept of saving the forests is amusing.

This actually happened 100 years ago when foresters protected the forests from agricultural clearing.

And they became the last refuges for much of our wildlife that was lost from cleared areas.

On this world forestry day a salute to those who really saved the forests .

Last Wednesday, while we were celebrating World Forest Day by handing Environment Minister Bill Marmion messages from around 5,000 people opposed to native forest logging, the Institute of Foresters of Australia were engaging in a little bit of rebranding.

Attempting to reshape the event as 'World Forestry Day', the institute released an amusing, and very telling media release. We've attached the full version below, but here are some highlights:
• Foresters have played a critical role in protecting and managing our forest resources whether they are in National Parks, State Forests, Plantations or Water Catchments.
• Foresters do not enjoy cutting trees down. To do so would be similar to a farmer standing on the killing floor an abattoir saying “how good is this”!
•Foresters harvest trees in the knowledge that they are either improving the health of the remaining forest.
• Public calls for the cessation of harvesting in regrowth native forests and eucalypt plantations because they have biodiversity values is actually positive proof that foresters are creating valuable multiple use forests and not the reverse.

You see, foresters aren't greedily trying to chop down the last unprotected native forests before legislation finally catches up with the real environmental, tourism and carbon-capture value of our trees. They’re protecting them! The rationalisations required to think that the presence of numbats in Warrup Forest - an area where the only logging experience was a few trees brought down with handheld cross-saws 70 years ago - is proof that modern clear felling is sustainable is staggering.

* Stop the loggers and save our endangered wildlife -

* 12 good reasons to stop logging our native forests -

Unfortunately today we have juveniles in the forest who living out their boys' own dreams and playing war-gamesumping on machines and pretending to be on adventure.

Alas its too serious for such child's play.

Suggestions that the forests are at risk defy science.

The forests where timber was cut became havens for animals. And after 150 years they still are still full of the wildlife that has been lost elsewhere.

I dream of a world where the activists' boundless energy for conservation would actually be engaged usefully.

I feel sad that some people need to carry out pranks and get arrested and may get criminal records for silly behaviour.

And all for nothing. They will not make a scrap of difference - even if they are successful.

* Experts warn WA's northern jarrah forest under threat -

* Extinction fear for WA birds -

* Perth slowly devouring it's black cockatoo species -

* Shock satellite image shows forests in serious decline -

* 12 good reasons to stop logging our native forests -

*** Stop the loggers and save our endangered wildlife -

The suggestion that the forests of WA have not been significantly reduced after 150 years is amazing.

Firstly, in the last two centuries Australia has made more species extinct than any other place on Earth.

Secondly, an Elder once put it thoughtfully to me - since the 'tall ships arrived from the 1830s onwards' soon most of the forests that stretched from Albany to Geraldton were wiped out - let us remind ourselves that just about all of the south west was forests - so this has had a massive effect on carbon storage, rising temperatures, salinity, the soil.

It is a world wide phenomena with forest reduction in proportion to total land mass radically reduced in the last two hundred years and the demand on yield from cleared land increasing to a point that the nutrients of the soil have been reduced.

For every old tree felled it takes hundreds of thousands of new trees planted to replace it carbon store! Am I incorrect?

The Lorax was right, with the super axe hackers the truffula trees have been wiped out... the writing has been on the wall for quite some time, and that's why we've got rising temperatures and rising sea levels and soil erosion, and extinction of species well ahead of their time.

Food for thought, regards, Gerry

yes you are incorrect

the carbon from a tree is stored in wood products for the life of the product plus the life of the product in landfill

any energy produced from the tree replaces non renewable sources such as coal

wood products use a fraction of the alternatives such as steel and aluminium, therefore switching to wood products reduces carbon emissions

the forest regrows and stores more carbon

you can't lose using wood sustainably, its is good for the environment

THINK what are the alternatives

The alternative to logging NATIVE forest is to transition to plantations and agro-forestry.

It's a solution that's been proposed for a good 6-8 years but the forest industry refuses to listen to reason and continues to commit Ecocide by logging the habitat of threatened animal species.

Gerry, I've been reading some of your articles and I thought you were a journalist trying to present both sides of this debate in a sensible and fair manner. I see now that you are no different to the so called Forest Rescue mob. Your understanding of forests, the social history of this country over the last 200 years, and science in general, is sadly lacking. You need to go and read some history books and re-enrol in a science class, then put pen to paper as a journalist. If you do that well, you might get a job as a respected environment/social issues writer in a high circulation newspaper or magazine. If not, you will remain a hack journo.

Blue manna, Gerry is just a dumb Wog he hangs around with dumb ass abos so he can feel like he is smart

I think Gerry's contributions have been fantastic for generating discussions, he certainly achieves this and puts a lot of pertinent informations and events

I don't think he is exactly trying to a journalist with Indymedia because his stuff on this site is different to his newspaper stories where he gets all sides in

Thanks Gerry


So maybe wood products from native forests still store carbon but I've never heard of a wood product providing valuable wildlife habitat! But yes, what are our alternatives if we don't believe native forests are being logged sustainably? Well, I would say our options are: don't support it (vote with your dollar) or put pressure on the industry to drastically improve its standards. Forest Products Commission can boast of having a certified environmental management system and that they work to Australian Forest Standards but you should see how much wood is wasted (and burnt) after a large scale logging operation and the carnage of wildlife. It's criminal.

Axel says "Suggestions that the forests are at risk defy science." Show me the science! Give me the links if they're available or tell me what they're called. Show me some decent independent long term studies. It's not just about the trees growing back as tall and thick as they were before or even that the understorey species, herbs, grasses and fungi grow back too. The forest is a complex system of interactions that rely on each other and some can not do without others.

I agree it is not solely native forest logging that is responsible for the decline of many plant and animal species and that spreading development and agriculture and any form of habitat destruction must also take responsibility - which means all of us are responsible. But that is not a good excuse to continue logging at the current levels or targeting forests such as Warrup which have really high conservation values and is home to 8 endangered species including numbats of which there are only estimated 1000 left!

the fra are heroes, these three in the photo are just plain speaking heroes

World wide selective logging replaces clearcutting, while chipping replaces Bee-Hive burners. What is unsustainable logging on B.C's west coast is clear cutting logging the sides of huge mountain ranges in the rainforests of British Columbia.

Clear cutting mountain side in a rainforest causes the soils to be washed off the mountains into the rivers and that then shuts down the spawning beds of the seven races of wild salmon. It therefore is destructive of the salmon, and the future generations that depend on the forest to take out the carbon, and give us back the clean oxygen that we need to live.

Re-tool to the renewables such as wind, tidal, and solar power and get out of coal, gas, oil and atomic energy which is destroying the living web-of-life of the planet.

We cannot live on CO2--carbon-dioxide, which the fossil fuel burn-out puts in place, and the oxygen is already gone by 38% from the first industrial revolution. We cannot live on carbon-dioxide.

It does not take a rocket scientist to figure out, that if the present society continues, the oxygen will be gone and we cannot live without it. End pollution wars, not endless wars for more and more pollution. Workers of the world, unite!! You yet have a world to win!!