Protesters block off forest access for almost a fortnight
LOCAL environmentalists have been attempting to prevent the logging of Gladstone State Forest near Bellingen with a blockade for just shy of a fortnight.
Protesters have set up camp, cutting off the Sunny Corner road access to the forest in a bid to protect what they say is the "logging of high quality koala habitat”.
Forestry Corporation of NSW began its logging operation on February 12, however the blockade has prevented any of the timber from leaving the forest.
Since the protest began, Forestry implemented a number of forest closures forcing the protesters to retreat to avoid hefty penalties.
Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham, Greens MP Dawn Walker and Bellingen Mayor Dominic King have all made appearances and thrown their support behind the blockade.
Soon after her appearance Ms Walker delivered a speech in State Parliament calling for the logging operation to end.
Bellingen Environment Centre spokesperson Ashley Love said they were left with 'no other choice' but to protest as their pleas had been ignored.
"We provided Forestry Corporation with evidence of the koalas,” Bellingen Environment Centre spokesperson Ashley Love said.
"The number of scats (koala faeces) found in the area was more than any of us had ever seen in one location. Their response is to create a two-hectare koala high use buffer.”
"The problem is, there is no high use area being buffered and there is no provision for it under the logging rules.”
Meanwhile, Forestry Corporation has responded to the controversy saying Gladstone State Forest undergoes selective timber harvesting every 20 years.
"The fact that our production forests continue to support robust koala populations demonstrate the measures we have in place are providing protection for this important native species,” Forestry Corporation senior manager Dean Kearney said.