A PROTESTER who managed to chain himself to the roadway in opposition to logging at Tarkeeth Forest has been arrested by Coffs-Clarence Police.
Dozens of protesters attended the site today, with a number attempting to block access to the Bellingen Shire forest for a logging haulage vehicle.
Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham was at the blockade and described the Tarkeeth Forest as an important ecological, economic and social asset to the region.
"We recognise that it is a plantation, but the plantation has reverted back to its natural ecosystem," Mr Buckingham said.
"It's been there long enough that there are a mixture of species combined with remnant vegetation that, in the Greens' opinion, make it worth saving.
"It has biodiversity values, plus a strategic location in the landscape.
"The forest is at the junction of the Bellinger and Kalang Rivers, and we believe the services it provides in terms of bio- diversity and also in making sure we have good-quality, clean water in both rivers, mean it's better preserved than logged."
Mr Buckingham said he would take the community's concerns to State Parliament.
"We've had brave people defending the forest, locking on, putting their bodies and lives on the line - quite literally - and I was proud to stand with them in that direct action," he said.
"It's a key area, a koala and quoll habitat, and the Greens want it protected, so I'll be raising the issue in State Parliament.
"It's a remote area but it's a successful campaign and it's only going to go from strength to strength.
"The Forestry Corporation really need to recognise that the community's not going to go away, and we want them to leave this forest as it is.
"In an age of climate change, it's crazy to be cutting down a forest."
Forestry Corporation of NSW senior manager Dean Kearney said his team was responsible for planning the next 100 years of sustainable timber supply, in which Tarkeeth Forest plays an important role.
"Forestry has undertaken substantial planning for this operation as we do with all our harvesting activities," Mr Kearney said.
"During planning we spoke to all the neighbours as well as other stake- holders in the community, including a number of face- to-face meetings.
"Our role is to balance the views of all the stakeholders, which we believe we have achieved."
Mr Kearney said the area is former agricultural land purchased by a private company for wood production in the 1960s, which Forestry purchased in 1983 and is now harvesting and replanting over a number of years.
He said Forestry has gone "above and beyond" the requirements of the Plantations Code, including adding a connectivity corridor for wildlife, increasing protection on drainage lines, protecting steep slopes, breaking the harvest area up into small patches to be harvested and replanted over successive years, and undertaking significant road safety improvements.