‘A GLOBAL CRIME’: Protesters rally in CBD
"ECOCIDE" was one term used by impassioned protesters to describe logging operations planned and underway in unburnt forests on the North Coast.
There was a heavy police presence at the rally held outside the Forestry Corporation building in Coffs Harbour today, which saw around 130 people in attendance with many donning face masks.
Officers ordered attendees to abide by the Covid-19 restrictions, ensuring they were in groups of only twenty with 20 metres distance between. One protester was ordered to move on.
Protesters intended to march to the offices of the local members of parliament however this was shut down by police.
The Bellingen Environment Centre, The Gumbaynggirr Conservation Group and the Nature Conservation Council co-ordinated the rally to coincide with the release of the findings of the year-long parliamentary inquiry into NSW's koala population - which has found that without government intervention, the population will be extinct by 2050.
The groups, who have been protesting against a logging operating in Nambucca State Forest for the last month, are calling for an end to logging in koala habitat and sacred cultural sites.
"It's a global crime what's currently occurring in our forests. There is significant published evidence to prove these forests are tens of millions of years old," local ecologist Mark Graham said.
"Ecocide is a crime against humanity, it's a crime against mother Earth and in this case it's a crime of intentionally killing and extinguishing life.
"I encourage anybody who doubts whether there may be ecocide occurring to go look at Nambucca and a whole host of other forest compartments."
The Nambucca State Forest, which had been subject to the logging operation until Forestry Corporation withdrew last Tuesday, holds significant cultural value for the Gumbaynggirr people.
The Gumbaynggirr Conservation Group had set up a Tent Embassy at the forest in May saying they had not given permission for the logging to occur.
Spokeswoman Sandy Greenwood said the group celebrated a win last week when the logging trucks left the forest. This came at around the same time the government announced it has suspended controversial plans to potentially open up old-growth forests to logging.
Ms Greenwood said she is currently in the process of taking Forestry Corporation to court, and is believed to be the first indigenous woman ever in NSW to attempt to litigate against them.
The court case is ongoing.
"It's been an incredible community effort, so full of love and resilience, and I keep pinching myself to think we have Gumbaynggirr supporters and a Gumbaynggirr-led forest action group in our area," Ms Greenwood said.
The Forestry Corporation had repeatedly stated it was carrying out a small-scale, low-intensity thinning operation in around 100ha of the forest.
Logging operations are currently underway on the North Coast in Lower Bucca, Wild Cattle Creek and Coolambatti State Forests.