Tuesday 19 July 2022


One of the greatest benefits of our democracy is the right to peaceful protest, which has been beneficial for the environment, and society as a whole.

Without protest action by people going outside their comfort zone to take a principled stand, local wilderness areas like the World Heritage listed Gondwanan rainforests of the Washpool and Nightcap would have been destroyed. It was also peaceful protest, and a passionate display of ‘people-power’, that prevented gas fields from proliferating across the Northern Rivers.

However, the NSW government recently succumbed to corporate pressure, and introduced what can only be described as draconian legislation that can see protesters jailed for exercising their democratic right to protest.

This legislation has been strongly criticised by eminent organisations including the Civil Liberties Council, the Environmental Defenders Office, and the Human Rights Law Society, but the government has pushed it through regardless.

In an impassioned speech to parliament, newly elected Greens MP, Sue Higginson, explained that “protest is fundamental to democracy”, and the fact that the opinions and advice of those organisations can be ignored by the government, indicates that “something is going incredibly wrong”. Ms Higginson who, as the former principal solicitor with the Environmental Defenders Office, described protesters she has known, and defended in court, as “incredibly brave” individuals who have participated in civil disobedience “at significant detriment and compromise to their own lives”.

It seems that some in the legal fraternity agree, as indicated by all charges being dismissed for forest ‘protectors’, known as the Cherry Tree Four, for blocking access to the Cherry Tree state forest against loggers late last year.

The group’s lawyer said, the Magistrate accepted that we were living in a climate crisis and agreed that these climate change warriors were just trying to protect endangered and threatened species from death by Forestry Corp logging in Cherry Tree State Forest”. Summing up, he said, "These warriors of the forest, who are held in high regard and seen as leaders in our community, should never have been dragged to court”.


-        John Edwards


Published in the "Voices for the Earth" column in The Clarence Valley Independent ,July 13, 2022.  

Monday 11 July 2022


 The North East Forest Alliance calls on the Federal Government 

to save Koalas and Gliders from extinction

In a media release on July 5 the North East Forest Alliance (NEFA) demanded the Commonwealth urgently remove its approval for the NSW Government to clear and log the homes of Koalas and Greater Gliders now that they have both been listed as nationally Endangered.

The Greater Glider has now been listed by the Federal Government as Endangered because of “an overall rate of population decline exceeding 50 percent over a 21-year (three generation) period, including population reduction and habitat destruction following the 2019–20 bushfires”, the Scientific Committee further noting “cumulative impacts of the 2019-20 bushfires, ongoing prescribed burning, timber harvesting and climate change will continue to put pressure on remaining greater glider habitat. Fire-logging interactions likely increase risks to greater glider populations”.

“The Federal Government cannot continue to turn a blind-eye to plight of nationally listed threatened species as NSW drives them to extinction, it is equally culpable as co-signatory to the North East NSW Regional Forest Agreement which gives blanket approval for clearing and logging of threatened species habitat across public and private lands in north-east NSW.

“Populations of many of our forest species have been decimated by clearing and logging, and now their depleted populations are being pushed to extinction by the increasing severity of droughts, heatwaves and bushfires.

“The 2019/20 fires took a huge toll on our forest wildlife, causing massive losses in the heavily burnt forests, leading the Federal Government to list the Yellow-bellied Glider as Vulnerable in March, the Koala as Endangered in May, and now the Greater Glider as Endangered.

“The Commonwealth should no longer allow the NSW Government to clear and log the remaining refuges for Koalas, Greater Gliders, and Yellow-bellied Gliders if it wants to avoid their extinction.

“The new federal Environment Minister, Tanya Plibersek, needs to intervene by changing the North East NSW Regional Forest Agreement to restore the requirement for pre-logging surveys to identify where nationally listed threatened species survive, and ensure that clearing and logging is prohibited in their homes.

“To save our species, we first need to identify where they live, protect their homes and then start restoring their habitat” Mr. Pugh said.

Conservation Advice for Petauroides volans (greater glider (southern and central))




Saturday 2 July 2022


Calls for an end to logging NSW’s public native forests are growing. One of the reasons for this call relates to threats to our biodiversity.  Healthy native forests ecosystems provide essential habitat for native species including threatened species like koalas.  Also forests with mature trees provide the hollows needed for a range of threatened birds such as parrots and large owls and arboreal mammals including gliders.  Current logging practices destroy this important habitat value at a time when we are experiencing a growing biodiversity crisis. 

Another reason is that our State Forests are vitally important in our efforts to mitigate climate change by providing an important store of carbon.  Destroying forests releases carbon that has been stored over the trees’ lifetimes and contributes to climate change. Ceasing native forest logging will be a key component in successfully meeting our 2050 net zero emissions target.

Logging these important publicly-owned natural resources is unsustainable now – let alone in the long term – because of the damage it causes. 

Having recognised this problem in their states, Victoria and Western Australia have decided to phase out native forestry logging.  While their decisions were influenced by science, strong community campaigns eventually encouraged them to act.  In NSW there is increasing community support for our government to take this action and many conservationists and others are urging the NSW Government to follow their example and phase out logging our public forests.  Obviously a comprehensive transition plan for the current public forests industry will need to be developed as the plantation-based industry is expanded.  Expansion of the plantations must only be on land that is currently cleared. 

Public native forest logging is also economically unsustainable. The Forestry Corporation loses money each year with a loss of $20 million last year.  A recent study by ANU’s Professor Andrew Macintosh and Frontier Economics found that ceasing native forestry logging in the south of NSW could produce over the period 2022-2041 a net economic benefit of about $60 million while reducing net greenhouse emissions by about 1 million tonnes per year. 

            - Leonie Blain

 Published in the "Voices for the Earth" column in The Clarence Valley Independent , June 22, 2022.