Australia: Recent Direct Action forest defense in Upper Florentine

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60 Police have raided camp Florentine this morning to remove road blockades so that logging of the contentious area can begin. An Exclusion Zone has been declared by Forestry Tasmania, to prevent public access to the area. A Hobart man has already been arrested for being in the exclusion zone. More arrests are expected today. Three conservationists are positioned 50 m up tree platforms blocking the access road and log landing.

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Two conservationists are chained to vehicles cemented into the road. Another is occupying a tunnel that has been dug under the road preventing access to the old growth logging area. “It’s disappointing to see, once again, Tasmania Police being the public escort for Gunns Ltd and Forestry Tasmania’s ruthless plans to log our remaining old growth forests into extinction. 80% of the forest that will be logged will go to Asia to make wrapping, toilet and writing paper. Is this how we want our iconic world heritage valued forests to be remembered?” said spokesperson Ed Hill. “The logging industry is facing massive cutbacks and a stagnant wood chip market. Ports are drowning under wood chip stockpiles, yet this government insists on continuing to decimate the pristine, carbon dense forests of the upper Florentine for woodchips.” Said Mr. Hill

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MP Daniel Hulme claims activists have put lives at risk by setting up booby traps. He said they were to blame for a trap in the Styx Valley, which Forestry Tasmania said could have seriously injured or killed a timber worker. A strand of fencing wire was strung between two trees in a forestry coupe last month, 30 metres above the ground so the wire could not be seen from the ground, Forestry Tasmania told police. A contractor discovered the trap after a tree limb was snapped by the wire as a tree fell to the ground, fortunately missing the faller. Such traps redirect the path of falling trees or limbs, meaning workers, believing they are standing in a safe spot, can be struck. The discovery followed a $1.2 million arson attack the week before on forestry equipment in the Lower Florentine valley. No charges have been laid over either incident. Mr Hulme is convinced anti-logging activists are to blame, saying "tying cables between trees as they did in the Styx" was one example of how they were putting lives at risk.

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Two people have been arrested and a third is hiding in a tunnel in the latest flare-up in the Upper Florentine Valley. At dawn this morning about two dozen police converged on Gordon River Rd. Forestry Tasmania plans to resume logging in the area. Officers arrested a 21-year-old woman from South Australia and a 24-year-old Hobart man. Three other protesters secured themselves in tree-sits and woman secured herself in a tunnel under a van concreted to the road. Rescue squad police are working to extract the woman and dismantle the tree-sits. About 20 protesters have been maintaining a vigil at a protest camp in the area since Forestry Tasmania built a road into a contentious old-growth coupe.

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Treesitter RemovedMay 5th, 2009 at 8:20 pm

The Tasmanian Premier, David Bartlett, has ruled out meeting the group behind forestry protests in the Upper Florentine.

Still Wild Still Threatened is trying to block Forestry Tasmania’s access to the area to protest against old-growth logging.

The protesters say civil disobedience will be their only option in the campaign to save the forest if the Premier refuses to meet them.

But Mr Bartlett says the group is holding a gun to his head.

“It’s an option that I can’t possibly consider now that they’ve effectively held a gun to my head by saying they will act illegally and ramp up their illegal activities until I do.”

Mr Bartlett says he does not need to meet the protesters because he is aware of their message.

“Quite frankly I don’t really need to meet with these people because I hear from their leader, Nick McKim, every day, in the parliament and in the media,” he said.

“So I understand what they’re about.”

In other developments today, the protesters say another tree-sitter has been removed by police.

Still Wild Still Threatened says a 26 year-old woman was removed from a tree, 45 metres above the forest floor this afternoon.

She’s the fourth person to be charged with trespass this week for entering an exclusion zone declared in the area.

This morning one of the tree sitters asked police to help him down because he was suffering hypothermia.

He was later arrested.

Meanwhile, logging is said to have resumed this afternoon a few hundred metres from the protest site, where about 20 activists are still camped

It is understood only one tree-sitter remains in the exclusion zone.

Inspector Glen Woolley says police are in no hurry to leave the Upper Florentine.

“There’s no date or time as to how long we’ll stay,” he said.

“We’ll stay for as long as we’re required to ensure that the business operations are able to continue without interruption.”

Cristo Mills from Still Wild Still Threatened says more people are willing to be charged.

“When it comes to standing up for the environment, which is a very important thing in this day and age of global warming, it’s definitely going to be a lot more arrests, with a lot more people standing up for Tasmania’s ancient forests,” he said.

A woman who was removed by police from a tunnel yesterday has been granted bail in the Hobart Magistrates Court.

Emma Capp was charged with trespass and wilfully obstructing a police officer after she allegedly refused to come out of the tunnel, which protesters built beneath a forestry road.

“It was a bit disappointing, we wanted to hold up work for as long as we could to get community awareness,” she said.

The 34-year-old was remanded to appear again on July 2nd.

Responce to Gov's booby trap nonsenseMay 6th, 2009 at 1:21 pm

Ms Weber denies any type of traps were set; she says protesters merely attached ropes to tree structures.

“Now these ropes can be easily removed,” she said.

“A Forestry Tasmania employee was there last week, took photos of it, was informed of the situation by the conservationists, and Forestry Tasmania merely has to climb the trees, take the ropes down and it is not any danger to anyone.”

Meanwhile five forest protesters arrested in the Upper Florentine Valley in Tasmania’s south this morning will face court tonight.

Three of the activists have been charged with assaulting a forestry worker.

Police raided a protest camp at the Upper Florentine Valley on Monday and have spent a third day at the logging coupe.

Only one protester now remains in the exclusion zone and he is up a tree.

Early this morning police were called to a nearby quarry where a man had locked himself to a gate.

Police arrested four people helping him, and have charged three of them with assaulting forestry workers.

Inspector Glen Woolley says police are in no hurry to leave.

“There’s no date or time as to how long we’ll stay,” he said.

“We’ll stay for as long as we’re required to ensure that the business operations are able to continue without interruption.”

“We don’t envisage there’ll be any more problems in this regard,” he said.

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