Media Release
17 February 2004

Conservationists re-enter Ellery Forest - logging halted

Conservationists have again entered the Ellery forest in Far East Gippsland this morning, following the start of logging in this controversial area. An extension of a logging road into previously untouched forest was recently delayed over a period of weeks due to intense protest activity, which resulted in a number of arrests. Logging has commenced following the completion of the road, and protests are expected to continue, despite the existence of an "exclusion zone" around the area. Conservationists are intending to halt work for as long as possible today and arrests are expected.

"The importance of forests such as Ellery, which contain wet old growth forest and rainforest, cannot be underestimated, especially in these times of drought and high fire danger," said spokesperson, Fiona York

"As long as logging is taking place in areas such as Ellery, protests will continue. After thirty years of clearfell logging, there are very few areas such as these left on the Errinundra Plateau, and it is more important than ever before that they be left alone for future generations to enjoy," she concluded.

For further information: Fiona York 0351540156

Media Release

Exclusion Zone set up at Forest Blockade

Wednesday 4 February 2004

This morning 30 police and the Department of Sustainability and Environment officers, including Search and Rescue, have once again entered the Ellery forest to remove conservationists who have been blockading a new road for nearly four weeks. The new road will allow access to seven old growth coupes bordering a Special Protection Zone (SPZ). Roading was also stopped in early December. There were two arrests last week with more expected today.

The Department of Sustainability and Environment established an exclusion zone preventing the public access into parts of the Ellery forest. Police and department officials isolated the conservationists, preventing media and the general public from witnessing the operation being carried out in public forest. A road block was established denying access to the area for all non government vehicles.

" The police and the department have shut the general public out of this area of public forest, once again keeping the destruction behind closed doors. The legality of the exclusion zones have never been tested in a court of law. It is unlikely that there is the authority to lock people out of public forest in this way" spokesperson for the conservationists, Billy Dain stated.

The DSE and police are using heavy-handed tactics to remove conservationists. Search and Rescue shot arrows at the person in the tree platform. No communication has been allowed between people to check the welfare of the person who remains locked into the road.

For futher information
Billy Dain GECO
03-51540156

Media Release

Thursday 29 January 2004

Treesitters defy police - forest blockade continues

This morning, two conservationists remain suspended 30 metres high in two separate tree platforms, blocking a logging road in the Ellery forest in Far East Gippsland. Twenty police and government officers spent all day yesterday trying to remove them from the tree platforms, which are attached to a wooden structure in the middle of the road. Twenty conservationists remain at the forest blockade, which was raided yesterday morning. One person was removed from a pipe concreted into the road and was arrested for obstruction. A second person evaded police for five hours by climbing the tripod structure in the road, before he too was arrested.

The forest blockade was established more than two weeks ago by conservationists, and is preventing access by logging crews to seven logging coupes. Logging is due to commence at any time in the area, which contains old growth forest and endangered species habitat.

"The importance of forests such as Ellery, which contain wet old growth forest and rainforest, cannot be underestimated, especially in these times of drought and high fire danger," said spokesperson, Fiona York

"I have nothing but admiration for the people who are prepared to brave the cold conditions of the Errinundra Plateau all night, perched high in trees, to protect these last remaining areas of old growth forest," she concluded.

For more information:
Fiona York
Goongerah Environment Centre
0351540156


Media Release

Thursday 22 January 2004

Rainforest Blockade Recommences

Forty conservationists have established an elaborate blockade on a logging road in the Ellery forest in Far East Gippsland. The blockade, consisting of a tripod-bipod-monopole structure attached to two 30 metre high tree platforms, is preventing access to seven logging coupes containing old growth and rainforest. Protests commenced in the area late last year following roading into the untouched area, which caused massive erosion into the Big River, part of the Snowy River catchment.

The protest highlights the issues exposed by the Environment Protection Agency (EPA) in their recent report on logging practices, which found East Gippsland to be the worst of all areas surveyed for roading and protection of rainforest. Another area of concern was the use of private forest managers to monitor forest operations in East Gippsland, which has resulted in a lack of public scrutiny of logging operations.

"Ferntree Road is a prime example of the appalling state of logging roads in East Gippsland. Not only has it caused massive erosion, it has opened up an untouched area to logging," said spokesperson for the protesters, Billy Dain.

"Although we are pleased that the EPA has confirmed what we have been seeing out here for years, it is going to take more than a report by the EPA to fix these problems," Mr Dain continued.

"Even if all the EPA's recommendations were implemented, logging could still take places in areas such as Ellery, which contain rainforest and wet old growth forest. In these times of drought and high fire risk, it is more important than ever before that these areas remain untouched," he concluded.

For further information:

Billy Dain 0351540156

Ellery Blockade 2003

A two day blockade took place in Ellery on the Errinundra Plateau to prevent a road from being built into an area of old growth forest which is scheduled to be logged. The area is adjacent to a Special Protection Zone which contains the endangered Sooty Owl, Spot tailed Quoll and Masked Owl. The road is already causing massive erosion and will allow weeds and feral animals into this area of forest, as well as facilitating logging.

Not suprisingly, the logging industry PR machine cranked into action, and tried to discredit the blockade using their tired old transparent arguments. Predictably, the fire threat was the first in their arsenal, when they accused us of capturing their "primary" fire fighting bulldozer. This was easily countered with "IF THE DSE IS REALLY CONCERNED ABOUT FIRE THEY SHOULD SPEND MONEY FIXING THE ROADS THEY ALREADY HAVE, INSTEAD OF BADLY MAKING YET MORE ROADS INTO OLD GROWTH FOREST."

After negotiations, the bulldozer was released by conservationists following an undertaking in writing by the DSE that the bulldozer would not be used to continue making this road.



Media Release

Monday 8 December 2003

Tree sit halts logging road in East Gippsland

This morning, in East Gippsland, 15 conservationists are stopping a logging road from being pushed into the Ellery forest, 40km north east of Orbost. They have attached a 35 metre high tree platform to government roading machinery, preventing further roading into untouched old growth forest.

This protest action is being supported by traditional land owners of East Gippsland, the Bidwali, who are concerned about the increasing rate of old growth forest destruction through out the region.

"This new road is allowing the logging of seven coupes, or 200 ha, of old growth forest. It is also encouraging weeds and feral animals in to the surrounding protected areas,' said Billy Dain, spokesperson for the Goongerah Environment Centre.

The road runs close to a Special Protection Zone (SPZ) which contains endangered animals such as the Spot tail Quoll, Masked Owl and Sooty Owl.

Conservationists are also concerned about the massive erosion problem the road has caused, which has become a common occurrence on government forestry roads. The Goongerah Environment Centre has a list of roading breaches from all over East Gippsland mostly concerned with erosion into waterways.

"Although it is great that the Environment Protection Authority are finally independently auditing logging coupes in East Gippsland, roading on the other hand is not monitored by anyone apart from volunteer conservationists," he continued.

"It would be far better practice if the government spent this money on maintaining the roads that already exist, especially for fire access and in National Parks, instead of badly building yet more roads with the sole purpose of facilitating destruction of old growth forest," he concluded.

For more information:
Billy Dain or Fiona York
Goongerah Environment Centre
03 51540156
[email protected]


Media release

Tuesday 9 December 2003

Conservationists release roading bulldozer yet blockade continues

For the second day, conservationists are stopping a logging road from being pushed further into the Ellery forest, 40km north east of Orbost. Yesterday, negotiations took place between conservationists and the Department of Sustainability and Environment (DSE), with conservationists agreeing to release a roading bulldozer from a 35 metre tree platform in exchange for the bulldozer leaving the Ellery forest. There was no undertaking by the DSE as to how the bulldozer would be used in future days.

"The removal of machinery out of the Ellery forest block in a step in the right direction. This area is of high conservational value and is habitat to endangered animals such as the Spot tail Quoll, Long footed Potoroo, Masked Owl and Sooty Owl. The fact that the DSE are not willing to move completely out of this area is alarming, and does not bode well for this area of forest," stated Billy Dain, spokesperson for the Goongerah Environment Centre.

Despite the removal of the roading bulldozer, the blockade is continuing, with the tree platform now attached to a structure blocking the road and preventing further roading.

Conservationist are asking for an investigation into the roading practices of the DSE due to the massive erosion problem the road has caused to gullies and waterways. They also questioned the departmentent about the future of the 200 to 300 year old trees which have been pushed over to make way for the road.

"There is no public scrutiny of these appalling roading practices and it is of great concern to us what would happen if not for the monitoring by volunteer conservationists. We are asking for a watch dog to be set up as there is nothing of this kind provided by the government," he continued.

Conservationists have vowed to maintain the blockade until such time that an investigation into erosion and field studies in the scheduled coupes up for logging have been completed

"We will be conducting our own field studies in the scheduled coupes as well as continuing discussions with the DSE concerning the forest in question," he concluded.

For further information
Billy Dains
Goongerah Environment Centre
(03)51540156
[email protected]

 
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