424 – Oceania Tree News

–Today for you 35 news articles about earth’s trees! (424th edition) http://forestpolicyresearch.com
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In this edition:



–Fiji: 1) Future Forests Fiji
–Java: 2) Gradual obliteration of mangrove forests
–Indonesia: 3) Orangutan sanctuary known as Tanjung Puting park may be converted to oil palm, 4) Orangutan Tropical Peatland Research Project,
–Papua: 5) Greenpeace investigation,
–West Papua: 6) Greenpeace announces it has evidence of illegal logging activities, 7) Cont.
–Sumatra: 8) Environmentally, it was a holocaust, 9) half the forest already gone, 10) Asian Pulp and Paper can no longer ‘negotiate’ with mainstream Enviros, 11) More than its fair share of natural disasters,
–Indonesia: 12) Greenpeace: Declare a moratorium on logging! 13) Follow the Esperanza on Google Earth, 14) Tin mining, 15) Logger wood stock to be audited, 16) AP&P’s logging highway is destroying the very forest the government says it’s now officially protecting,
–Papua New Guinea: 17) Greenpeace 2/3 the way through their tour, 18) What Greenpeace’s helicopter pilot sees,
–New Zealand: 19) Pathogen attacking Kauri tree’s root system, 20) Export log prices have increased again,
–Australia: 21) New book calling for more than 260 key eco-reforms, 22) Tiwi Island loggers penalized, 23) Protests continue in Tasmania’s Upper Florentine, 24) If the remaining ecosystems aren’t priced… 25) Brown demands minister protect parrot habitat, 26) River Red Gum Forests in crisis, 27) Emissions can be reduced dramatically if logging of native forests is stopped immediately, 28) Logger violence against protesters, 29) Many reasons to halt old-growth logging, 30) Real story is sending species to extinction and beating anyone up who tries to stop them, 31) Tree saving via moratorium on new private swimming pools, 32) Logger beatings and Arsons continue to escalate, 33) Cont. 34) Loggers say beating up enviros is the only reasonable solution to the problem, 35) Expected logging protests in New South Wales’ far south coast don’t happen,



Fiji must preserve the environment and plan for sustainable use of natural resources. Those were the words of Director Future Forests Fiji Roderic Evers while addressing staff and volunteers at Mark One Apparel Ltd during the Mission Green Earth Stand Up and Take Action event. Evers said people should take a step further by speaking out and taking action by planting trees. He also said that Fiji should ensure that certain procedures are followed to ensure that trees are not logged. He added that in a world which is experiencing unprecented deforestation and widespread global environmental threats that bring in a form of climate change, erosion and water scarcity there is something spiritual and intuitively right about planting a tree. http://www.fijivillage.com/?mod=story&id=1910086a2f8b23878a9fa312590531


2) As with other regencies in the densely populated East Java, Tuban is experiencing the gradual obliteration of mangrove forests along its coastal areas because of uncontrolled logging, shore reclamation projects and the absence of strict spatial zoning regulation.At least 105 hectares of mangrove forests have been damaged because of severe daily erosion, from Sugihwaras village in Jenu district to Sukolilo village in Bancar district. The recent collapse of a long dike, which protected the forest area, has contributed to the severe erosion. Chairman of the coastal farmers association in Jenu, M. Ali Mansur, said recently the erosion had eaten away at mangrove forests planted in 2006 and 2007, sweeping thousands of trees away to sea. Farmers and activists have both done much to repair the damage but the regency administration has contributed nothing to finance the mangrove centers to replant the barren coast. Ali said the mangrove center had spent Rp 750 million since 2004 in its efforts to breed mangrove seedlings to regreen eight hectares of barren coastal areas in the region. But their work over the past four years would count for nothing if no immediate action was taken to stop erosion, he warned. Tuban administration spokesman Sukristiono said the administration would help replant the barren areas by making strict policies and regulations and providing financial assistance to help salvage the mangrove forest. A total of 13,000 hectares of mangrove forests along the province’s coastal areas has been damaged due to intensive land reclamation and illegal logging of mangrove trees. Hundreds of houses and public buildings such as mosques, bridges, shopping centers, factories and bus terminals have been built on forest areas in Tuban. The same is the case in 16 other regencies including Madura, Sidoarjo and Malang. “If nothing is done about it, Java could sink,” Ali said. “Nobody will be able to do much if tidal waves like a tsunami occur anytime in the future.” Ali said both the government and the people should learn from the tsunami that devastated Aceh and Nias in 2004, which demonstrated the importance of planting coastal areas with mangroves to protect the people against such devastation. Aceh authorities classified the land within 50 meters of the coastline as a protected zone and turned it into mangrove forest following the devastating tsunami that claimed more than 210,000 lives and destroyed thousands of houses and public buildings. http://old.thejakartapost.com/detailnational.asp?fileid=20081015.D33&irec=9

3) In the rush to feed the world’s growing appetite for climate-friendly fuel and cooking oil that doesn’t clog arteries, the Bornean orangutan could get plowed over. Several plantation owners are eyeing Tanjung Puting park, a sanctuary for 6,000 of the endangered animals. It is the world’s second-largest population of a primate that experts warn could be extinct in less than two decades if a massive assault on its forest habitat is not stopped. The orangutans’ biggest enemy, the United Nations says, is no longer poachers or loggers. It’s the palm oil industry. On the receding borders of this 1,600-square-mile lush reserve, a road paved with good intentions runs smack into a swamp of alleged corruption and government bungling. It’s one of the mounting costs few bargained for in the global craze to “go green.” The park clings to the southern tip of the island of Borneo, which is shared by Indonesia and Malaysia, the top producers of palm oil. Exporters market it as an alternative to both petroleum and cooking oils containing trans fats “That’s only a slogan, you know,” said Ichlas Al Zaqie, the local project manager for Los Angeles-based Orangutan Foundation International. “They change the forest, and say it’s for energy sustainability, but they’re killing other creatures.” Indonesia is losing lowland forest faster than any other major forested country. At the rate its trees are being felled to plant oil palms, poach high-grade timber and clear land for farming, 98% of Indonesia’s forest may be lost by 2022, the United Nations Environment Program says. “If the immediate crisis in securing the future survival of the orangutan and the protection of national parks is not resolved, very few wild orangutans will be left within two decades,” UNEP concluded in a report last year. “The rate and extent of illegal logging in national parks may, if unchallenged, endanger the entire concept of protected areas worldwide.” http://www.latimes.com/news/printedition/asection/la-fg-palmoil19-2008oct19,0,2074347.story

4) The Orangutan Tropical Peatland Research Project works to protect one of the most important areas of tropical rainforest in Borneo – the Sabangau Forest in Central Kalimantan, Indonesia. We monitor the distribution, population status, behaviour and ecology of the forest’s flagship ape species – the orang-utan and agile gibbon – carry out biodiversity and forestry research, provide scientific feedback to conservation managers, and work with our local partners to implement successful conservation programmes. Our earliest work identified the Sabangau forest as home to the largest orang-utan population remaining in Borneo – 12% of the total world population – thus bringing the region to the forefront of orangutan conservation efforts. This resulted in the forest becoming a National Park in 2004. We work in partnership with Indonesian NGO the Centre for International Cooperation for Management of Tropical Peatland (CIMTROP) based at the University of Palangka Raya, Indonesia. Through this partnership we support local conservation efforts by implementing or funding a number of community-led conservation activities, including a Forest Patrol Unit, Fire-fighting Team, and programmes of environmental education, developing local livelihoods and habitat restoration. Through these programmes we have succeeded in stopping illegal logging in 2005 and damming illegal logging extraction canals and drainage channels. Our research and volunteer program has been running since 2001 and is a focus for local conservation efforts, providing much-needed employment and financial benefits for the local community and replacing illegal logging as the main activity and source of income in the northern Sabangau Forest. http://indonesiangibbons.blogspot.com/2008/10/volunteer-with-orang-utan-tropical.html

5) Greenpeace ship Esperanza arrived this morning in Manokwari, West Papua, with new evidence of the mounting threat to Papua’s forests from palm oil expansion, logging and other drivers of deforestation. Greenpeace revealed its findings of deforestation activities, some illegal, which they witnessed during the first leg of the ‘Forest for Climate’ ship tour that launched last week. During our helicopter flyovers, in the past week we have seen the magnificent beauty of Indonesia’s last frontier of intact forest and also witnessed illegal and increasing deforestation activities. Evidence gathered during the trip includes clearing of sago and nipah forest south of Jayapura to make way for large scale palm oil plantations by palm oil giant Sinar Mas and, continuing illegal logging activities in the suspended logging concessions of PT Kaltim Hutama and PT Centrico in Kaimana, West Papua. The forests of Papua are are under heavy pressure from palm oil expansion, logging operations and other drivers of forest destruction. We all need to play our part in safeguarding Indonesia’s forests and the global climate by calling on the Indonesian Government to declare a moratorium on deforestation now. http://www.jotgreen.com/2008/10/greenpeace-forest-for-climate-ship.html
West Papua:
6) Greenpeace announced it had found evidence of illegal logging activities in Kaimana, West Papua, carried out by two companies whose licenses had been suspended. “We found evidence that the operation was in progress. These activities are illegal,” said Greenpeace forestry campaign person for Southeast Asia, Bustar Maitar in a press release. The finding was a result of monitoring by Greenpeace from their ship, the MV Esperanza, which arrived in Papua on October 7 for the “Forests for Climate” campaigns. Esperanza is observing the impact of deforestation towards global climate change, decline in biological diversity and destruction in sources of revenue for people dependent on forest products. The ship is currently on its way from Jayapura to Manokwari in West Papua, and will continue their activities in Indonesia until November 15. According to Bustar, by monitor from the air over Nabire last Monday, Greenpeace found that logging companies PT Kaltim Hutama dan PT Centrico were still operating at the log pond in Nabire. Some of their heavy machinery was seen carrying timber and trucks were seen lining up around their wood storage site. “The company’s Forestry Concession Right is for the Kaimana area, but their log pond is located in Nabire,” Bustar said. Greenpeace has called on the Indonesian government to conduct a comprehensive evaluation on logging companies causing serious damage to forests in Papua and other parts of Indonesia. He also asked the company to cease their operations temporarily pending the results of the government’s assessment. “The company is undergoing a legal process,” Bustar Maitar told Tempo, who joined the MV Esperanza when it sailed last Monday. http://www.tempointeractive.com/hg/nasional/2008/10/18/brk,20081018-140839,uk.html

7) During the past week of the Esperanza’s tour of the Indonesian half of New Guinea, we’ve already seen some incursions into the forests of Papua and West Papua, mainly logging roads and small camps but also deforestation on a much larger scale near Jayapura, at the hands of palm oil producer Sinar Mas. Then, on Monday, our helicopter team discovered an area where illegal logging was taking place. The team passed over the Kaimana area in West Papua where two logging companies had been operating, but had their permits suspended earlier this year. In July, the Indonesian police arrested senior executives of both companies – PT Centrico and PT Kaltim Hutama – for violating national forestry laws by logging outside the areas set in their permits. While the helicopter team didn’t see any actual logging, they did witness logs being loaded onto a barge in two big log ponds (part of a river or estuary near the felling site where logs are held before being shipped out). With all permits for this area currently suspended, there should be no logging activities of any kind, and yet someone was preparing to transport logs downriver. And they were merbau logs, a highly vulnerable species of hardwood that also fetches a high price. What we saw at the beginning of the week goes to show just how difficult it can be to protect these forests. Without proper management and policing, there are plenty of remote places where unscrupulous companies can operate with little fear of being discovered. The solution? In the short term, a moratorium on all deforestation in Indonesia – we’ll be in Jakarta at the end of the month when our campaigners will be discussing this with ministers. But a moratorium is only a pause for thought, some breathing space to work on a longer term fix to the crisis. That fix needs to involve governments and funding from around the world, and our Forests For Climate proposal to fund ongoing protection for forests around the world explains how that can be possible. http://weblog.greenpeace.org/makingwaves/archives/2008/10/illegal_logging_exposed_in_ind.html
8) Environmentally, it was a holocaust. According to Tony Whitten, an ecologist with the World Bank and an expert on Sumatra, clearing 10,000 hectares of this lowland rainforest – enough for one small corporate oil palm plantation – means the death of 30,000 squirrels, 5,000 monkeys, 1,500 hornbills, 900 siamang (a large ape), 600 gibbons, 20 tigers, 10 elephants, and of course everything else that lives there, possibly including rare clouded leopards, sun bears, the Sumatran rhinoceros and the world’s biggest and tallest flowering plants. Here in Jambi province in central Sumatra, one million hectares have been cleared in the past 10 years, so multiply that death toll by 100 and then consider that Jambi is one of seven provinces in Sumatra where the forest is disappearing at a similar rate, and Sumatra is just one island in Indonesia, which has now overtaken Brazil to become the world’s leading destroyer of tropical rainforest and the third biggest producer of greenhouse gases after China and the US. There is still a vague idea wafting around in our culture that the rainforest is last decade’s issue, and we are on to the bigger, more pressing matter of climate change, but the two things are inseparable. In 1997 fires burning in the logged-over rainforests of Indonesia supplied a third of the planet’s carbon emissions for that year. Last year, deforestation in Indonesia and Brazil contributed more to global warming than the whole of human transportation – all our planes, trains, ships and automobiles put together. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/main.jhtml?xml=/earth/2008/10/26/sm_rspbsumatra.xml&page=2

9) Since the 1980s Sumatra has lost about half of its forest cover to logging and agriculture. As the WWF points out, many of these forests sit on top of some of the deepest peat soils in the world. So when the trees are removed, not only is animal habitat lost and the carbon sequestration potential of that land radically diminished, but those soils start oxidizing and releasing all their stored carbon into the atmosphere. In addition to the increased effect on global warming this deforestation causes, animals whose habitat is being eliminated include such iconic species as tigers, elephants, orangutan and rhinos. Sumatra is the only place on the planet where these four species naturally exist side by side. Sumatran Governors to Work Together to Protect Forests Speaking of what this agreement entails, Indonesia’s Deputy Minister of Environment Hermien Roosita had this to say: This agreement commits all the governors of Sumatra’s ten provinces, along with the Indonesia Ministries of Forestry, Environment, Interior and Public Works, to restore critical ecosystems in Sumatra, and protect areas with high conservation value. The governors will now work together to develop ecosystem-based spatial plans that will serve as the basis for future development on the island. Government and Non-Government Action Needed WWF and other conservation groups working in Sumatra will be working with the Indonesian government to help support this political agreement. Noor Hidayat, the Director of Conservation Areas at the Indonesian Ministry of Forestry calls the agreement “a broad based effort involving local and national government officials, financial institutions, NGOs, and communities,” and says that all of these groups must work together to make this commitment a reality. Sign Petition to Show Support The WWF is asking people to sign an e-petition to thank the Indonesian government for protecting Sumatra’s forests. http://www.treehugger.com/files/2008/10/sumatra-forests-get-government-pledge-of-protection.php

10) With APP, WWF no longer engages with the company and is advocating that all APP customers and businesses cut ties with APP because of its continued irresponsible logging practices that are destroying crucial elephant and tiger habitat – and releasing vast amounts of greenhouse gases in the process. APRIL, the other international paper giant operating in Sumatra, has made a global commitment to protect all high conservation value forests under its control. WWF is working with APRIL to protect and manage crucial habitats and peat lands and implement this agreement. At the same time, we are asking APRIL customers to work closely with WWF to monitor and audit the company’s performance against its own commitments. Through the Global Forest & Trade Network (GFTN), WWF is reminding GFTN members that participant companies must phase out “unwanted sources,” such as purchasing from companies that extract wood unsustainably. WWF is also asking financial institutions not to do business with companies that produce unsustainable wood products. http://bigcatnews.blogspot.com/2008/10/successes-in-sumatra-bring-hope-for.html

11) Sumatra has had more than its fair share of natural disasters over the last decade including the 2004 tsunami that killed over 190,000 people in the northern province of Aceh. 1) Conservation groups and government sign Sumatra forest deal; 2) New plans to protect native tigers and elephants in Sumatra; 3) Sumatran orang-utan now in serious decline Now a man made disaster is threatening to add to the misery that this region has endured. The Tripa area of peat swamp forest is being logged to make way for new palm oil plantations and the effects will have dire consequences for the people and wildlife that live there. The Tripa forests are located in north western Sumatra and provided effective coastal protection for communities in the tsunami. Behind them, very few casualties were recorded and they also serve to protect against floods as the peat swamp regulates water flow. Their importance for both biodiversity and carbon stores cannot be over stated. They are home to one of just six remaining viable populations of the critically endangered Sumatran orangutan and contain millions of tons of carbon dioxide that is being released into the atmosphere as they are destroyed. A recent study commissioned by the Swiss NGO PanEco has shown the peat is more than 3 metres deep over much of the area. There are already laws in Indonesia that forbid the destruction of peat more than 3 metres deep but the local government seem powerless to protect this area. The effects are threefold. 1) CO2 is released into the atmosphere as the larger trees are cut and the remaining land is burnt. 2) Subsequent drainage causes further degradation of the peat releasing even more CO2. 3) This then results in subsidence of the land itself of approx 5 cm per year. The area of Tripa is already at about sea level, or only slightly above, so within a very short space of time the sea will claim huge swathes of this region and inland communities will have no protection against future tsunamis. – The recent agreement to protect forests in Sumatra between the Indonesian government and a number of conservation groups including WWF and Fauna and Flora International is a step in the right direction. However to save Tripa from the unfolding disaster there needs to be urgent action immediately. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/main.jhtml?xml=/earth/2008/10/20/easumatra120.xml

12) Greenpeace has called on the Indonesian government to urgently declare a moratorium on logging to save the remaining rainforest in the Papua region. The NGO has been touring Papua in its ship, Esperanza, for the past two weeks and a spokesperson Bustar Maitar says they have witnessed illegal and increasing deforestation in trips into the hinterland on their helicopter. He says the forests of Papua are under heavy pressure from palm oil expansion, logging operations and other drivers of forest destruction. Mr Maitar says a moratorium will help curb Indonesia’s greenhouse gas emissions, safeguard the wealth of tropical biodiversity and protect the livelihoods of forest-dependent communities all across Indonesia. Greenpeace had earlier accused the Papua authorities of turning a blind eye to illegal logging. http://www.rnzi.com/pages/news.php?op=read&id=42632

13) If you’re still trying to picture the destinations we’ve been to so far and the route we’re taking through Indonesia, you can now follow the Esperanza in Google Earth. Just download this Google Earth layer and you can see when and where the highlights on the tour have occurred. (You’ll need to have Google Earth installed as well, of course.) New placemarks will appear automatically as we update the journey, so check back often to see what we’ve been up to and how the campaign is progressing. If you don’t want to install Google Earth, you can also see where we are in your web browser. Meanwhile, we left Manokwari on Monday and are sailing west towards Jakarta where we’ll arrive in the middle of next week. We’ve passed through a narrow passage called Selat Sagewin, less than 2 miles between the forested slopes of two islands, and we’re now cruising through the Ceram Sea. The crew have been taking advantage of the journey to Jakarta and the paint pots have come out to give some parts of the ship a touch-up. I also been taking a break from my web duties to help out and yesterday a gang of us were giving the forward bulkhead of the boat deck a new coat of paint. While we were working, Locky the bosun and Silas spotted a commotion in the water a couple of hundred metres away. Areas of the sea were foaming, and every so often a plume of water would shoot skywards which could only mean one thing – whales. Several of them appeared to be herding schools of fish into bait balls and occasionally a set of massive jaws breached the water as a whale scooped up its prey. http://forest4climate.wordpress.com/2008/10/21/follow-the-esperanza-in-google-earth/

14) Tin mining on these sleepy islands off Sumatra has brought wealth, but at a price; it is literally eating away at the land. The scale of the environmental damage on the Bangka-Belitung islands can be most clearly seen from the air, revealing a lunar landscape of craters and hundreds of highly acidic, turquoise lakes created by centuries of largely unregulated tin mining. Efforts in recent years to control illegal mining on the islands have reverberated thousands of miles away by spooking world markets for tin in global financial centers such as London. “We will continue to clamp down as long as there are violations,” said Iskandar Hasan, Bangka-Belitung’s police chief, adding that mining was still going on in prohibited areas such as protected forests in the province of about 1 million people. Tin exports from Indonesia, the world’s second-biggest producer after China, have slowed after a government clampdown on illegal mining in Bangka-Belitung, helping make tin one of the best performers on the London Metal Exchange in recent years. The white metal, widely used in food packaging and to solder electronic products, hit an all-time high of $25,500 a tonne in May. It has halved along with falls in most other metals due to concerns over a global recession. Indonesia’s government has said it will set an annual tin production quota of 100,000 tonnes from next year in a bid to reduce environmental degradation in the main tin-mining areas. But the situation on the ground is often murky. Thousands of small-scale traditional and often illegal mining operations sprung up in the late 1990s when the Asian financial crisis wiped out jobs in other sectors of the economy. http://www.reuters.com/article/environmentNews/idUSTRE49K0MF20081021?sp=true

15) The Indonesian Forestry Ministry has announced a policy that requires timber companies to have their wood stocks audited to ensure the wood is derived from sustainably managed forests, reports The Jakarta Post. The measure is expected to curtail illegal logging in a country where a large proportion of timber is of illicit origin. Unlike the current system where authorities only inspect documents (which can be forged) presented by forestry firms, the new initiative — known as the Wood Legality Verification System — will involved independent inspectors who will audit wood stocks throughout the supply chain, according to Hadi Pasaribu, the Forestry Ministry’s director general for the management of forestry production. Indonesia hopes the system will reduce deforestation, increase treasury revenue, and open environmentally-conscious markets to Indonesian wood products. Proposed legislation in both Europe and the United States may soon restrict imports of illegally-sourced timber. The Indonesian Forum of Environment (WALHI) estimates that some 2.8 million hectares of woods are illegally logged each year. Indonesia has the world’s second highest annual rate of forest loss after Brazil. Government to audit forestry companies’ wood stocks. http://news.mongabay.com/2008/1017-indonesia.html

16) Indonesia’s newly announced commitment to saving Sumatra is facing an early test, following revelations that Asia Pulp & Paper (APP) had pushed a 45-kilometer, legally questionable logging highway through prime Sumatran tiger habitat. The latest road, passing through protected areas, proposed protected areas and deep peat areas banned from clearing due to massive carbon stores, is the third new controversial logging road associated with APP, under the umbrella of its holding group Sinar Mas Group (SMG) and affiliates, to come to light in the past year. The existence of the road, servicing two equally controversial APP and affiliate-owned concessions in the Senepis lowland forest, was revealed in an investigative report issued today by the Eyes on the Forest group of NGOs battling deforestation in Raui Province. The group, including WWF-Indonesia and local NGOs Jikalahari and Walhi Riau, has highlighted previous instances of illegal clearing by APP and other companies in the central Sumatran province which has recorded some of the world’s highest deforestation rates. “Unfortunately, this logging project is just the latest in a continuing pattern of wholesale natural forest destruction by APP and its associates in Sumatra,” said Johny Setiawan Mundung, Director Executive of Walhi Riau. “Our field investigators found that APP has completed a 45-kilometer highway through the Senepis peat forest and paved nearly half of it already, even though we could find no permit for the road.” The revelations come just over a week after the Indonesian ministers of Forestry, Environment, Interior and Public Works were joined by all 10 provincial governors from Sumatra at the World Conservation Congress in Barcelona, Spain to announce a commitment to protect the natural forests and ecosystems of the world’s sixth largest island. Draining or disturbance of the deep peat soils under forests such as Senepis results in globally significant emissions. Global discussions on financial mechanisms for avoided deforestation could soon result in countries like Indonesia receiving more from investors for forest preservation than forest destruction. “The building of this road has resulted in a massive, 50-meter-wide gash of opened forest along the 45 kilometers,” said Hariansyah Usman, deputy coordinator of Jikalahari. “The road splits the Senepis peat forest in two, releasing significant amounts of climate-altering carbon emissions from the clearing and drainage canals on both sides.” http://www.panda.org/index.cfm?uNewsID=148181

Papua New Guinea:

17) We’re currently two-thirds of the way through a three-month tour of south-east Asia – six weeks in Papua New Guinea, six weeks travelling the length of Indonesia – and what we’re interested in are the remaining areas of pristine forest to be found here. It’s becoming increasingly apparent that industrial logging and a stable climate are mutually exclusive, so protecting the forests we have is a no-brainer in the climate change argument. Brace yourself now, I’m going to dazzle you with some statistics: 1) we’ve already lost 80 per cent of the planet’s original forest cover; most of that has been gobbled up within the last 30-odd years; 2) around one-fifth of our greenhouse gas emissions are thanks to deforestation; 3) Indonesia ranks only behind the US and China in terms of man-made greenhouse gas emissions, and that’s largely down to the clearance of its rainforests and carbon-rich peatlands. — Join the dots and it’s obvious there’s a big, big problem. In Papua New Guinea, the focus was on illegal logging but now we’ve moved on to one of the biggest threats facing Indonesia’s forests: the ever-expanding palm oil industry. Other writers on this blog have already covered both the problems with palm oil and some of our earlier work on the subject. Palm oil is bad for the forests around here because the industry’s dizzying expansion is chewing up colossal areas of forest to convert into plantations. These vast monocultures stretch for mile after mile, making Indonesia the largest producer in the world. But that’s not enough, and it’s set to expand even more. Large chunks of the forest that remains are pegged for the palm oil treatment with companies you’ve probably never heard of (like Sinar Mas, Duta Palma and Asian Agri) poised to carve them up. So, what’s the plan? The purpose of sailing from Papua in the east to Sumatra in the west is to see what’s happening in the forests ourselves. Over the past three weeks, we’ve been flying out over the forests of Indonesian New Guinea in the Esperanza’s helicopter (known to her friends as Tweety) and the good news is there’s still a lot of gorgeous forest out there. I managed to sneak on one of the flights myself and I don’t think I’m exaggerating when I say it ranks up there in the top ten highlights of my life so far. http://www.blog.thesietch.org/2008/10/27/why-greenpeace-is-exploring-indonesias-last-forest-frontier/

18) Someone who has taken part in all the research flights our helicopter Tweety has carried out is, of course, the pilot. Shaun (or Dingo as he’s known about the ship) has flown every mission in both Indonesia and during the previous leg in Papua New Guinea. As a result, he’s seen a considerable amount of New Guinea and is able to draw comparisons between the two sides of the border. Listen to the interview below to hear about Shaun’s experiences flying over New Guinea. http://forest4climate.wordpress.com/2008/10/27/our-man-in-the-sky/

New Zealand:

19) It is on Conservation Department land and private property at Pakiri, in the Okura and Albany scenic reserves, on private property in Waimauku, and also on Great Barrier Island. The plant pathogen, phytophthora taxon agathis, is found in the soil and attacks the kauri root system. It was originally identified as responsible for the death of kauri in the Waitakere Ranges, hits trees of all ages, and has no known treatment. Spread appears to be by contaminated footwear and also by feral pigs, particularly with their natural rooting habit in the soil. The pathogen is now known to have been in New Zealand 50 years, slowly causing deaths among kauri. Once the disease was identified in the Waitakere Ranges, the Auckland Regional Council immediately took action to reduce its spread and to identify how widespread it was. Signs, and disinfectant mats for shoes, have now been placed at all Waitakere Ranges entry points, and eight new hunters have been employed to blitz the wild pig population there. “We really want people to cooperate with us so that we can limit where it is,” says regional councillor Sandra Coney. “We have to do everything we can think of to stop the horror scenario of there no longer being a kauri forest.” The outbreak at Pakiri involves aboout 100 trees both on DoC land and private land. There had been reports of pig rooting activity in the area. The department has two blocks of bush and scrub land at Pakiri, each around 40ha. Dr Nick Waipara of the Auckland Regional Council has visited the site and confirmed the pathogen. He briefed the Rodney District Council last week about the situation and possible actions by the region’s councils. http://www.stuff.co.nz/stuff/sundaystartimes/auckland/4737022a6497.html

20) Export log prices have increased for the third successive month as the owners of New Zealand’s third largest forestry estate sent out fliers to prospective buyers of its 134 thousand hectares of radiata pine, Dominion Post reported. Big falls in shipping rates and the New Zealand dollar gave the NZX Agrifax Export Log Indicator its largest monthly boost in the six years it has been running. The index rose by just over $1 to $76.80 a tonne because of higher export returns, particularly in the South Island. Matariki – a consortium of American forestry company Rayonier, AMP Capital and Deutsche Bank’s REEF Infrastructure – announced in August that it was putting its forests up for sale. Rayonier New Zealand managing director Paul Nicholls said the consortium’s financial advisers – First NZ Capital and Credit Suisse – were still contacting prospective buyers, but fliers would go to well in excess of 20 parties. Matariki’s estate is spread throughout New Zealand, with about 20,000ha in Northland, 30,000ha in the Bay of Plenty, 20,000ha in Hawkes Bay, 7000ha in the lower North Island, 30,000ha in Canterbury and 30,000ha in Otago and Southland. The aim is to sell to one buyer rather than split it up. The last major New Zealand forestry deal was in 2006 when Carter Holt Harvey sold 187,000ha of forest to Hancock Timber Resource Group for $1.6 billion. If Matariki was able to command a similar price – about $9000 a hectare – its estate would fetch $1.26 billion. However, a forestry industry source said it was generally accepted that the CHH estate went for a premium, and Matariki would struggle to get a similar price. Mr Nicholls said the worldwide financial crisis would have some impact on the sale process. “We’re not sure how the crisis will affect the process at this stage. But as we get talking to the prospective buyers first hand we will get a better view on that. We would be foolish to think there was no impact.” http://wood.lesprom.com/news/36162/


21) A new book calling for more than 260 key reforms to Australia’s environment policies has sparked a row over the right of researchers to speak out. The Australian National University has urged the forestry lobby group, the National Association of Forest Industries, to retract comments attacking a chapter by one of the book’s editors, ANU forestry ecologist Professor David Lindenmayer. The book, Ten Commitments: Reshaping the Lucky Country’s Environment, by CSIRO’s publishing arm, was launched earlier this week at Parliament House by global eco-campaigner Dr Jane Goodall. More than 40 of Australia’s leading environmental scientists contributed chapters. Professor Lindenmayer lists 10 key reforms for better forestry management, including a ban on logging old-growth forests, improved logging practices and greater investment in forestry research. The association says the chapter is ”poorly researched” and his recommendations ”show a frightening lack of understanding of Australia’s environment and the current economic climate”. It said the book ”and other recently released publications” showed the ANU ”is no longer expecting high standards from its researchers”. In a statement posted on the association’s website, chief executive Allan Hansard asks, ”How much longer will the ANU retain its position as 16th on a list of the world’s top 100 universities if it fails to demand scientific rigour from its professors?” The ANU’s vice-chancellor, Professor Ian Chubb, has called for the association to retract its comments, claiming they are ”incorrect and deliberately defamatory” of the university. In a letter faxed to the association, Professor Chubb wrote, ”Researchers employed by the ANU release the findings of their research in publications. Those publications do not represent the view of the ANU itself as your organisation is already aware. The university does, however, encourage its academic staff to engage in constructive public debate based on their research and defends their right to do so.” A spokeswoman said the association intended to take the matter further, enlisting support from the Construction Forestry and Mining and Energy Union. It would ”seek clarification” from Professor Chubb on links between the ANU, Professor Lindenmayer and Fenner School researchers to ”the Wilderness Society and the Greens”. Professor Lindenmayer said the association had ”blatantly misrepresented” his recommendations, claiming he had called for an end to logging of native forests. ”If I’d done that, then why would I then move on to talking about the need to improve current logging practices? It makes no sense.” An ANU spokeswoman said the university ”will not accept funding where the funder has any right to interfere in, or alter, or prevent publication of, the outcome generated by the ANU research”. She said organisations such as the Wilderness Society ”and indeed NAFI are welcome to fund research so long as it does not compromise academic freedom or the integrity or reputation of ANU.” http://www.canberratimes.com.au/news/local/news/general/anu-under-attack-from-forest-group-over-research/1333586.aspx

22) 24) Australia’s largest forest plantation companies has been ordered to pay $2 million after a Federal Government investigation of its operations on the Tiwi Islands in the Northern Territory found it had failed to protect vital rainforests and wetlands. The federal Environment Minister, Peter Garrett, has ordered Great Southern Plantations to carry out $2 million in damage repairs after the company breached crucial buffer zones that are supposed to protect the rainforests and wetlands on the Tiwi Islands from the areas bulldozed for plantations. The Tiwi Islands have been described as the “jewel in the crown” of the northern forests. The company undertook to clear native forests on the islands to set up a 26,000-hectare hardwood plantation. In 2006 its Tiwi operation was the largest native-forest clearing project in northern Australia. The federal action against the company is one of the most dramatic imposed on a forestry company. Last night Mr Garrett said he took the breaches “very seriously”. He said he was also imposing new conditions on Great Southern’s Tiwi plantation including demanding a $1 million bond on the company to ensure the buffer zones were repaired and ordering it to pay another $1.35 million to the Tiwi Land Council for an Aboriginal ranger program. “I have imposed new conditions requiring measures to remedy the damage done and for additional and ongoing environmental benefits to the area,” he said. But conservationists argue the Tiwi Islands plantation has been a mistake from the beginning. The plantation was originally approved by the Howard government in 2001, which allowed the company to bulldoze native forests in the sensitive tropical environment. “The breaches are just symptoms of a project that should never have been approved,” said Charles Roche, of the Northern Territory Environment Centre. “Most of the damage is from the project itself. We shouldn’t be approving the clearing of native vegetation on the Tiwi Islands. It’s bloody stupid.” Great Southern Plantations is one of the biggest plantation businesses in Australia, heavily driven by tax incentives and with around $1.5 billion invested. But its Tiwi Islands plantation has been dogged by controversy since its inception. Last year the Greens senator Christine Milne and other leading conservationists called for a halt to any further expansion of the project. A spokesman for the company, David Ikin, said yesterday the company admitted it had made “some inadvertent mistakes in the past”. But he said improvements in “managerial techniques” and mapping had improved operations. http://www.smh.com.au/news/environment/forest-firm-told-to-pay-2m-for-damaging-islands/2008/10/15/1223750129823.html

23) Environmentalists have disrupted logging in Tasmania’s south-west. About 15 members of the group, Still Wild Still Threatened, are protesting at a coupe in the Upper Florentine Valley. One protester is staging a tree-sit while others have blocked a road and police are trying to remove them. A spokesman for the protesters, Christo Mills, says they are determined to stay.”As long as it takes until either they’re arrested or they choose to come down,” Mr Mills said. “So it could be a few days, could be today. “It just depends if the S-E-S or Police Rescue climb up there. “The logging of old growth forests by Forestry Tasmania and Gunns Limited is just wrong and it’s destroying our beautiful forests and destroying the carbon sinks.” Forestry Tasmania says the protest is a media stunt, which will cost logging contractors up to $10,000 a day. The Acting Operations Manager, Steve Whiteley, says only 10 per cent of the Florentine Valley is reserved for logging and targeting forestry over climate change is misguided. “Forestry is the only carbon positive industry and it’s a shame that these forest activists are so focussed on their anti-forestry campaign and they can’t really see that forestry isn’t a threat to the planet. “But obviously fossil fuels and other more important things could usefully be a fucus for their attention.” http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2008/10/13/2389234.htm?site=hobart

24) “If the remaining ecosystems aren’t priced then they are basically traded as free input to the expansion of agriculture,” Brand said from Sydney. “So the objective here is to give them a price that slows that process and makes alternatives to conversion more economically attractive.” Earlier this year, Sydney-headquartered New Forests signed a deal with the government of Indonesia’s Papua province and Indonesia-based Emerald Planet, which advises and invests in green projects. The aim of the Papua project is to save two tracts of forest from development in return for carbon credits estimated between US$4 and $10 a tonne per year. The two areas, each about 100,000 ha (250,000 acres) in Mamberamo and Mimika regencies and largely in pristine state, had been previously surveyed for oil palm, cassava and sago palm plantations and about half in total had been slated for clearing over the next 10 years. By preventing that, Brand said, initial estimates showed the project could save between 20 million and 40 million tonnes of carbon dioxide being emitted over 15 to 20 years. A major portion of money from the sale of the credits would go to the local community to be managed through an independent, perpetual endowment fund. Brand said the project was in the process of applying for licences and then validation under the internationally recognised Voluntary Carbon Standard before emissions offsets would be available for sale, possibly by early 2010. New Forests, which says it manages $200 million in assets throughout Australia, New Zealand, the United States and the Asian region, has also helped develop the Malua BioBank in Malaysia’s Sabah state on the island of Borneo. The project involves the protection and restoration of 34,000 hectares (80,000 acres) of orangutan and clouded leopard habitat for 50 years. The scheme has generated 1.36 million of biodiversity credits, a new class of environment product for sale by emissions markets, and each credit covers 100 square metres of forest. So far, 21,500 credits have been sold at US$10 each to Malaysian firms and Brand said his company was in negotiations with a few large firms to sell sizeable blocks of Malua credits. “We see forests as having an intersection with the three major environmental issues of the 21st century, which are climate change and the carbon cycle, biodiversity and conservation and fresh water,” he said. http://africa.reuters.com/top/news/usnJOE49J0F7.html

25) The Australian Greens leader, Bob Brown, is demanding the Prime Minister intervene to protect a rare parrot species from possible extinction. A new report, written jointly by one of Senator Brown’s former staffers, shows Swift Parrot numbers have fallen rapidly to only 1,000 breeding pairs. Senator Brown says 1,000 hectares of Tasmanian nesting ground is being destroyed each year in the Weilangta Forest which Forestry Tasmania has agreed not to log during the summer breeding season. Senator Brown says the Swift Parrot will be extinct within decades unless logging in Weilangta is stopped altogether. “I’m calling on Kevin Rudd to move in and announce a dispute exists with the Tasmanian authorities over logging of the habitat of this fascinating bird and withdrawl from the Regional Forest Agreement if Tasmania doesn’t agree to protect the nesting habitat of this bird along the south-east coast of Tasmania,” Senator Brown said. http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2008/10/20/2396170.htm

26) As you may have seen on the ABC last night, the Murray is in crisis – but there is something simple that you can do to help. The River Red Gum Forests that line the Murray and associated tributaries in SW NSW act as filters and buffers for the river and are important for maintaining river health – but they are not healthy themselves. In places, up to 75% of the trees are already stressed, dead or dying and they are being logged for low value products such as fenceposts, railway sleepers and firewood. If you have not done so already, please sign our online petition, asking the NSW government to urgently commit to the creation of new national parks across these forests. http://www.wilderness.org.au/

27) A significant breakthrough for climate change and forests was contained deep in the final report of Professor Ross Garnaut, released on 30 September 2008. Professor Garnaut’s final report says that Australia’s greenhouse emissions can be reduced dramatically if logging of native forests and land-clearing are stopped immediately. While the overall thrust of the report was disappointing (in that it fails to set adequate targets for reductions in emissions of greenhouse gases), a major step forward occurred with the inclusion of the findings of research by the Australian National University on the carbon-carrying capacity of Australia’s eucalypt forests. Given the current trajectory of emissions, scientists are now predicting a temperature increase of up to 6.1?C and a sea-level rise of 1 to 3.7 metres by 2100. With 18% of annual global emissions caused by deforestation, we can no longer ignore the role of forests and native vegetation in the climate solution. The table also shows that additional emission reductions will occur if all clearing of land for agriculture also ceases. Approximately 35% of the greenhouse gases in the atmosphere are the result of past land clearing. This final installment of the Garnaut Review acknowledges that international estimates on how much carbon occurs in a standing native forest may be conservative. It quotes figures from the Australian National University (ANU) Green Carbon Report that shows Australia’s native forests contain about three times as much carbon as estimated by international climate authorities. (S. 22.3.7, page 556). This groundbreaking new science from researchers at the ANU reveals that Australia has some of the most carbon-rich forests in the world – storing more carbon per hectare than tropical forests in Indonesia or Brazil. This means huge amounts of carbon will be preserved when Australia’s natural forests are protected from logging. The science is clear – Professor Garnaut has confirmed the value of protecting Australia’s our forests and bushland as carbon banks; there is simply no excuse not to act now. http://www.wilderness.org.au/articles/garnaut-report-final-submission

28) AN anti-logging protester has been kicked in the head by a forestry worker at a protest in Tasmania, forest activists say. Eight activists from the Still Wild Still Threatened group today blocked access to a harvesting area of the Upper Florentine Valley, 120km west of Hobart, the activists say. The group disrupted logging in the area for a day last week using a tree-sitter, costing contractors an estimated $10,000 in lost revenue. Still Wild Still Threatened spokeswoman Ula Majewski said her group today used a “dragon” to block a road used by log truck drivers and forestry workers. With a “dragon” a car is driven over a device dug into the road and an activist, using a hole in the floor of the vehicle, locks an arm onto the device, she said. The group blocked the road for three hours until about 9.30am (AEDT) when a contractor attacked the vehicle with a sledgehammer, she said. “The contractor set upon the car with a sledgehammer and then dragged the activist out from the car and kicked him in the head while he was lying on the ground,” Ms Majewski said. She said the victim, who escaped serious injury, was a 22-year-old male activist who unlocked his arm from the road during the sledgehammer attack. He would complain to police about the assault, she said. Ms Majewski said the activists had filmed the attack. http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,25197,24529491-26103,00.html

29) There are many reasons to halt old-growth logging in Australia, including biodiversity conservation, the maintenance of water catchment values and carbon storage. A civilised nation that is concerned about its environment should not be cutting its limited remaining areas of old-growth forest. Old-growth logging has been halted in some parts of the native forest estate, such as in the wet ash forests of central Victoria. This should now be extended to the east Gippsland forests and the wet forests of Tasmania. There will be some social dislocation in embracing such a phase-out policy and structural adjustment packages must be implemented to ensure that this key reform is done in a socially just way. These important issues about the urgent need to stop old-growth logging are discussed in a new book, The Ten Commitments: Reshaping the Lucky Country’s Environment, that I co-edited with three colleagues. The book outlines the carefully considered opinions of more than 40 leading Australian scientists about ways to improve the nation’s environment. It spans three main themes: different environments (from deserts and rangelands to forests and tropical savannas), various sectors (eg, fisheries, mining, forestry and water) and such cross-cutting themes as human population size, energy, biodiversity and governance, and institutional arrangements. Each chapter outlines the 10 key things that a given author or set of authors believe are urgent to address. http://www.canberratimes.com.au/news/opinion/editorial/general/careful-research-in-call-to-halt-oldgrowth-logging/1340178.aspx

30) The last three days have been quite a revelation of exactly what’s going on in Tasmania’s forests. Regardless of the rhetoric of sensitive management of the forests, the real story is one of wantonly sending species towards extinction and viciously attacking those brave souls who stand up for protection. On Monday, Bob Brown launched a new report by Margaret Blakers and Isobel Crawford into the state of the Swift Parrot (pictured).This amazing parrot, named in honour of its ability to cross Bass Strait in 3 hours (the ferry takes all night!), is listed as endangered, but, as the paper argues, should be upgraded to critically endangered as its population has recently crashed below 1000 pairs thanks to the logging of its only breeding grounds – the forests of south-eastern Tasmania. Last Friday, Forestry Tasmania proudly announced that they would halt logging in the Wielangta coupes where the birds are nesting this season. Once the birds are gone, of course, Forestry will continue the slash and burn, destroying forever one of the last remaining nurseries for this beautiful little bird. Bob made the point to Fran Kelly on Radio National breakfast on Monday that, with a species on the brink of extinction and the State Government doing nothing to protect its long-term future, the Federal Government has the right and the responsibility to step in and terminate the Regional Forests Agreement that covers the area preventing the Federal Government from taking any action to save thebird. When challenged on the issue by Fran Kelly on this morning’s breakfast, Peter Garrett ducked the issue, passing the buck to the Tasmanian Government: “Under the RFA Act, it is the responsibility of the Tasmanian government to ensure that those management prescriptions that have been identified as necessary are undertaken and it’s our expectation that that would be the case… The EPBC [Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation] Act does not apply, and hasn’t for some time, to override or to provide … any necessary or additional actions over the RFA. Now that’s always been the case.” http://blogs.crikey.com.au/rooted/2008/10/22/violence_and_extinction_in_tasmanias_forests/

31) The Australian Democrats have called for a moratorium on new private swimming pools in Adelaide to save trees across the city at risk from the drought. Democrat MP Sandra Kanck said swimming pools were a luxury the community could not afford. “Trees benefit everyone. They soak up greenhouse gases, cool our city, provide habitats for wildlife and can be enjoyed by every passing pedestrian, cyclist or motorist,” Ms Kanck said. “The average pool holds 50,000 litres and 375 new pools, holding 19 million litres of water, were approved in Adelaide’s eastern suburbs alone last year.” Ms Kanck said that was enough water to give about 1,500 significant trees a lifesaving monthly soak. Gardening experts said thousands of trees across Adelaide were at risk of dying this summer after three years of poor rainfall. http://www.independentweekly.com.au/news/local/news/general/stop-pools-to-save-trees-dems/1341753.aspx

32) ANTI-logging activists in Tasmania say one of their long established forest campsite has been firebombed, destroying two cars and an information booth.The attack overnight in the Florentine Valley, 120km west of Hobart, follows a violent clash between forestry workers and activists at a road block in the same area on Tuesday. Three car loads of men arrived at the group’s campsite late last night, Still Wild Still Threatened member Ula Majewski said. The campsite, where five people were sleeping, blocks a forestry road to an area marked for logging. “A number of unknown individuals arrived at Camp Florentine around 11.30pm (AEDT) and used jerry cans of petrol to set the two vehicles on fire,” Ms Majewski said today. “A forest activist who was sleeping in the vicinity of the vehicles was woken by shouting and loud smashing. “A forest information booth provided for tourists was also set on fire and a gas cooker inside exploded,” she said. The incident was reported to police today after some of the activists had to walk out of the forest because their cars had been destroyed in the attack. Police also are continuing their investigations into Tuesday’s incident when a timber contractor allegedly kicked a protester in the head after a car was smashed by other men using a sledgehammer. Forestry industry figures have been defending the contractors against the allegations of violence, saying their frustrations with the activists have a limit and are understandable. http://www.news.com.au/story/0,23599,24546101-1702,00.html

33) The Tasmanian Greens today challenged Premier David Bartlett to condemn attacks on forest defenders in the Florentine Valley in the strongest terms, and to cease acting as a stooge for the forest industry by implying that the activists who have been attacked are somehow to blame. “Forestry Tasmania is deliberately and provocatively targeting contentious coupes that it knows will provoke protest action, and as such has to accept its share of the blame for recent events.” Greens Leader Nick McKim MP said that contrary to Mr Bartlett’s belief, it is not the protestors who need to ‘take a good hard look at themselves’, but the Premier himself who needs to do so. “We are very lucky that no-one has been seriously hurt so far, and rather than pouring fuel on the fire Mr Bartlett should be condemning this violence in the strongest possible terms,” Mr McKim said. “When Tasmania’s history is written the brave activists who are defending Tasmania’s magnificent forests from destruction will be seen as heroes and heroines, and Mr Bartlett will be seen as just another chainsaw-driven stooge of the logging industry.” “Mr Bartlett has confirmed that he is just simply another in a conga line of Labor Premiers who are beholden to a forest industry that continues to destroy Tasmania’s magnificent carbon-rich forests and contribute significantly to the climate crisis.” “Mr Bartlett has to understand that the activists are the victims here, and rather than trying to deflect blame on to innocent parties to curry favour with the logging industry he should be calling a halt to the contentious logging that is the fundamental reason that conflict still exists in Tasmania’s forests.” http://tas.greens.org.au/News/view_MR.php?ActionID=3356

34) Forestry workers have told Tasmanian anti-logging campaigners they risk violence if illegal road blocks are used in a planned week-long protest. The activists, from the Still Wild Still Threatened group, are refusing to stop the blockades for their new protest, starting November 23, called November Pain. Contractors say the blockades cost them an estimated $10,000 a day in lost work. Three loggers were charged with common assault and four activists were charged with trespass over an incident last Tuesday at a blockade in the Florentine Valley, 120km west of Hobart. Police are still investigating Thursday’s firebombing of the activists’ forest HQ. Premier David Bartlett has effectively washed his hands of the escalating violence, saying the workers’ rising anger was understandable. On Saturday activists will celebrate the second year at their forest campsite with a community open day. Forest Industries Association of Tasmania chief executive Terry Edwards said his members were worried about the November Pain protest. “Anything that increases the level of tension at the moment is obviously a problem and a concern to us.” Mr Edwards wants the activists to obey the law and stop provoking extreme reactions by illegally blocking contractors’ access to the harvesting areas in state forests. http://news.theage.com.au/national/antiloggers-warned-over-november-pain-20081027-59px.html

35) There has been an uneventful start to logging in a disputed forest on the New South Wales far south coast. Yesterday, police set up a command post and patrolled roads leading to the Bermagui reserve, north of the town, as Forests NSW began a six-week operation to produce what it says are high quality sawlogs. Only a handful of protesters were on hand as heavy machinery moved into the area yesterday morning. State Forests’ Ian Barnes says there is big demand for forest products. “It contains high value sawlogs mainly because it is a regrowth forest created back in the 1920s and ’30s, so the sawlogs will go to Eden mainly. Some veneer logs are to go as far north as Grafton for poles and girders while the remainder will be going as pulp wood to the facility at Eden,” he said. Chipstop spokeswoman Harriet Swift says the small turnout of protesters north of Bermagui yesterday did not mean the logging issue had lost some of its steam since it was first mooted some months ago. “I don’t think so. Once people see that it’s started and what’s happening it’ll probably actually activate opposition even more,” she said. “There has been evidence of koalas in this area and we just can’t afford to take a risk about it.” http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2008/10/28/2403034.htm BULLDOZERS rolled in to some of the last remaining koala habitats on the South Coast yesterday, marking the start of what police fear could be a divisive logging operation. Forests NSW workers plan to log about 180 hectares of native eucalypt forest from the coast north of Bermagui, for a mixture of wood veneer products and woodchips. But environmentalists and local residents are planning a long campaign to keep the forest undisturbed. New studies by the NSW Department of Environment and Climate Change show only a handful of koalas remain in the district – perhaps a dozen out of a Far South Coast population once counted in the thousands. None have been found within the logging zone itself, although the discovery of koala droppings suggest the animals may move through the area from time to time. The NSW Government said logging in the two zones north of Bermagui would not affect the koalas. “Extensive surveys have shown there are no koalas in the two compartments involved in the current harvest and few in the South Coast area,” the Primary Industries Minister, Ian Macdonald, said in a statement. A coalition of local environment groups, called the South East Region Conservation Alliance, said that koalas may still use the logging zone, and said a koala management plan for the district was not yet complete. “These public forests are of critical importance to the survival of the remnant of the koala population,” said a spokesman, John Hibberd. “The remnant here is thought to be about 10 to 12 individuals, and there’s a very real chance that the loss of this habitat, together with the pressures of climate change and drought, could see them die out,” http://www.smh.com.au/news/environment/conservation/last-koala-habitats-get-the-chop/2008/10/28/1224955957921.html

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