Conservationists say they will not relax their fight against logging in the McCorkhill forest, despite a lack of action from the State Government.
The WA Forest Alliance activists, including Margaret River Regional Environment Centre members, staged a protest on Tuesday by seven self-described grandmothers as part of a campaign to heap pressure on the Government to halt old-growth logging and disband WA’s Forest Products Commission.
MRREC’s Peta Goodwin said she and the other six women — three of whom were older than 80 — arrived at McCorkhill at 4am armed with chairs, blankets and home-baked treats for the forestry workers. The Margaret River women blocked the road and worked on their knitting.
“Our grandchildren are depending on us to deal with the climate and biodiversity crisis,” Ms Goodwin said.
“I’ve never done anything like this before, and I never thought I would, but I have tried everything, and the McGowan Government just isn’t listening.
“We have to protect these forests for the climate, and for life.
“We know that the FPC is running at a loss — not a profit — and we know that markets for the products of (their) work are hard to source,” Ms Goodwin told the Times.
“These ancient trees are burnt or pulped and sold for less than it costs (FPC) to log them.”
The Times has reported at length about local finance experts arguing FPC was operating at a net loss, but Liberal-National and Labor governments during the past decade have said the timber industry was instead a valuable source of jobs.
The Forest Industries Federation WA has also disputed claims FPC was logging old-growth forest, saying nearby Helms forest was infected with dieback.
MRREC spokesman Ray Swarts said arguing about the definition of old-growth forest was pointless when conservationists wanted no logging of native forests.
Speaking to the Times from the site, Mr Swarts said the “magnificent forest” was devastated by recent operations.
Mr Swarts said further actions were planned, including a documentary on South West logging. Margaret River woman Janny Lane — whose former councillor husband Peter first raised questions about FPC’s finances in 2009 — said the women shared “the same deep anxiety” about the future.
“We want to shake this Government out of their slumber and tell them to get on with dealing with climate change by protecting our forests,” she said.
An FPC spokesman said logging would go ahead in the forest when it was safe.
“It is a great example of a well-managed regrowth forest and an endorsement of the Forest Products Commission’s sustainable forest management practices,” he said.
“The current McCorkhill harvest operation was subject to extensive community consultation prior to starting and has now been underway for several months.
“The harvest of regrowth forests like McCorkhill promotes healthy forests, as well as jobs in regional areas and is part of the $220 million contribution the native forest industry makes to the Western WA economy each year.”
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