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Anthology of State Serial Rape of Bermagui’s Spotted Gum Forest Habitat




About 380km south of Sydney lies what NSW Tourism labels the beautiful ‘Sapphire Coast’ and the seaside town of Bermagui. Less than 3km north of town north along Bermagui-Cobargo Road up the Bermagui River estuary is the Bermagui State Forest – a label by the NSW Department of Primary Industry (DPI) given to Spotted Gum forest habitat for Yellow Bellied Gliders, Grey-Headed Flying Foxes, Tiger Quolls, Sooty Owls, Sea Eagles, Possums, Koalas and a range of native fauna and flora.



Spotted Gum (Corymbia maculata)

Australia’s magnificent and unique Spotted Gums are naturally distributed in open forests along the hilly coastal corridor from south-east Queensland down through New South Wales and with a few isolated pockets in East Gippsland, Victoria. They belong to the botanical family ‘Myrtaceae’ and grow straight and tall up to 40 metres. Their height attracts roosting by Sea Eagles. [Listen to ABC Audio on a 400 year old spotted gum]

Spotted gums flower once every two years and produce a rich pollen that attracts native birds such as Lorikeets and Yellow Tailed Cockatoos as wells as possums and flying foxes including the now endangered Grey-Headed Flying Fox. [SOURCE]



Unlike the declaration of a ‘National Park’ which affords federal environmental protection to forest habitat, the State label of a ‘State Forest’ is a misnomer. A ‘State Forest’ is deemed a timber and woodchip resource for logging. The same public relations label is used across New South Wales, ACT, Victoria, Western Australia, Tasmania and Queensland. A State Forest is not treated as a forest for its natural habitat values, but rather as a logging coup on death row, that can be chainsawed at will anytime. Perhaps ‘Death Row Forest’ is a more apt label than speaking the State euphemism of ‘State Forests’.

And its public relations label logging as ‘harvesting’, a euphemism to belie the destructive reality.


NSW Logging Offensive 1988

On the back of a century of clear felling Bermagui State Forest was logged in the late 1980s. Then according to data from the Bureau of Resource Science, 148ha were “thinned” in 1996, and another 133ha that same year, then 94ha in 1999.

Typically 70% of the spotted gums goes to Boral’s mills in Narooma, Nowra and Batemans Bay as sawlogs to be processed into mainly flooring. The remainder end up as woodchips at Nippon Paper’s woodchip mill at Twofold Bay for export to Japan.

So Australia’s precious endangered habitat is being destroyed for flooring and paper.


NSW Logging Offensive, Oct 2008

In October 2008, NSW Forests logged what it labeled “two compartments” in Bermagui State Forest north of Bermagui. It justified this under the infamous Eden Regional Forest Agreement (RFA). This RFA is one of three established in 1999, in which the NSW Government relegated 15.1 million hectares of native forests across New South Wales for logging anytime.

The usual public relations spin preceded the logging. Southern Region manager of Forests NSW, Ian Barnes,t;/small>


It was at this time that DPI Minister Ian MacDonald started to use Dick Cheney tactics and push his weight around with protesters. The following questions to the NSW Legislative Council by NSW Greens Senator Lee Rhiannon on 28th October 2008 highlight the escalated use of law enforcement into a heavy handed riot squad:

Ms LEE RHIANNON: ”I direct my question to the Minister for Police. Did officers stationed at Batemans Bay police station in collaboration with Forests New South Wales hold a meeting at the Bermagui Country Club in September to warn locals associated with calling for forest protection not to protest when logging commenced in the Bermagui State Forest? Does the holding of this meeting reflect that Batemans Bay police officers have adopted a zero tolerance policing approach to forest protesters? Considering that since logging started in Bermagui State Forest on 27 October with a group of about 40 protesters gathered in the vicinity, about 15 police cars, more than 20 police, including members of the Public Order and Riot Squad, a mobile police command bus and two police rescue vans have been in attendance, will this level of policing continue for the coming six weeks of logging in this area? What is the anticipated cost of this operation?


The Hon. TONY KELLY: The Far South Coast Local Area Command of the New South Wales Police Force has been advised that New South Wales Forests is to commence logging compartments of Bermagui State Forest later this month. As in the past, protests are expected. As always, the New South Wales Police Force is committed to maintaining public order. For this reason, local police and various commands, including the Public Order and Riot Squad, Highway Patrol and Rescue Squad will join together to conduct an operation. This operation will focus on ensuring the protection of persons engaged in lawful activities. Local police have made it clear that anyone engaging in unlawful or dangerous activity in or near the logging operation will have action taken against them. When offences continue and are considered dangerous, police will arrest and charge people as necessary. Police respect people's rights to protest during these times; in no way are they looking to prevent lawful and peaceful protests. Police have asked anyone who intends to protest to contact them so that they can attempt to facilitate lawful activity, minimise disruption and focus on protecting the safety of everyone involved.”

[SOURCE: Hansard]


NSW Logging Offensive Feb 2009

On Monday 2nd February 2009, logging operations resumed in the Bermagui State Forest after the summer holiday break period and continued for about two months. Bruce Mathie and Sons is one of the prominent loggers in the area, but most timber finds its way either as saw logs to Boral for Spotted Gum flooring or else to Nippon Papers woodchip mill at Twofold Bay, Eden for export to Japan.

The forest rapers, ‘Forests NSW’ bulldozed, chainsawed and logged, then left with their booty.



Ian MacDonald’s Forestry Regulation 2009

But rather that do the right thing by the environment and by the community and obey the law of the land, those in power (Forests NSW) forced changes to the law of the land to bloody well suit themselves. Arguably reminiscent of England’s King Henry VIII changing laws to accommodate his adultery, or Joh Bjelke-Petersen’s gerrymandering that secured his electoral hold on power.

In order to keep the cameras and local conservationist away from the loggers destructive practices, Forests NSW got the Minister to legislate an exclusion area around its logging with the public relations labeling of “mainly for safety reasons”.

On 1 September 2009, the NSW Forestry Regulation 2009 came into force making it illegal for anyone to trespass into areas marked by NSW Forests for logging. This has given Forests NSW absolute logging power with the police as its enforcement lackies.

Forests NSW Minister for Primary Industries Ian MacDonald tabled the Bill and it became law preventing democratic protests by people trying to save important habitat from destruction. It has given loggers free reign to log State Forests with impunity.

Under Part 3, Division 1, Clause 11 of this Regulation, a logger has legal authority to request anyone to leave a forestry area and this includes if that person “causes inconvenience.”

Under Clause 12, a logger can forcible remove anyone from a forestry area “who is causing annoyance or inconvenience.” Surely such removal by a logger can be construed an assault under the Crimes Act? It is draconian. It is certainly an assault on Australians’ democratic right to protest. What was Ian MacDonald thinking?

NSW Logging Offensive Sep 2009

In September 2009, Forests NSW commenced logging again in Bermagui State Forest, like pack rapists marauding through a maternity ward.

Sure enough, on Monday, 14th September 2009, Police arrested two of four forest campaigners who had allegedly entered Bermagui State Forest in what Forests NSW had labeled logging compartments 2001 and 2002. Apparenpe known to support koalas is unacceptable, particularly when the NSW government cannot prove their claims that koalas can be found anywhere in the south east,” said Robert Bertram, local Friends of Five Forests member.

“This is yet another example of Forests NSW lack of care for community and the environment,” said Lisa Stone, spokesperson for South East Forest Rescue.

“They are logging old-growth in Dampier, threatened species habitat in South Brooman, endangered species habitat in Nadgee and now this.”

“The loss of biodiversity coupled with logging and burning means the condition of many forests is as bad as the endangered ecological communities on private land, unable to support most threatened and endangered species and unable to recover.”

“We urge the newly appointed Minister for the Environment, Mr John Robertson, to step in on behalf of the native forests and their dependents and stop these archaic practices.”

"The current government policy of destroying habitat to satisfy ‘wood supply agreements’ is robbing from the future generations their chance of survival. The amount of breaches was astounding and shows that Forests NSW cannot be trusted to log these important areas of Koala habitat."

"We have inspected many other logging operations in the past year and have found the same breaches everywhere we have looked. This is pe known to support koalas is unacceptable, particularly when the NSW government cannot prove their claims that koalas can be found anywhere in the south east,” said Robert Bertram, local Friends of Five Forests member.

“This is yet another example of Forests NSW lack of care for community and the environment,” said Lisa Stone, spokesperson for South East Forest Rescue.

“They are logging old-growth in Dampier, threatened species habitat in South Brooman, endangered species habitat in Nadgee and now this.”

“The loss of biodiversity coupled with logging and burning means the condition of many forests is as bad as the endangered ecological communities on private land, unable to support most threatened and endangered species and unable to recover.”

“We urge the newly appointed Minister for the Environment, Mr John Robertson, to step in on behalf of the native forests and their dependents and stop these archaic practices.”

"The current government policy of destroying habitat to satisfy ‘wood supply agreements’ is robbing from the future generations their chance of survival. The amount of breaches was astounding and shows that Forests NSW cannot be trusted to log these important areas of Koala habitat."

"We have inspected many other logging operations in the past year and have found the same breaches everywhere we have looked. This is not a once off mistake but a systemic disgust for any environmental protection measures.”






South East Region Conservation Alliance

Conservationists state the native forest logging industry is unsustainable and only propped up by political will, public subsidies and union backing.

Spokesperson for the South East Region Conservation Alliance, Pru
Acton, says:

"The significant social and economic costs of reduced biodiversity can only increase while our natural systems are poorly managed.”

"Credible experts agree that the cost of logging this habitat is not only the last few koalas, but also potable water supplies, oysters, the inspiration for the local artists community, and another chunk of the Wilderness Coast's tourism potential."

"It seems the NSW Government has now decided its contractual obligations to supply sawlogs locally and woodchips to Asia is more important then protecting this much loved native animal."[SOURCE: ‘Logging resumes at Bermagui’ by Stan Gorton of Narooma News, 4-Feb-09]

Meanwhile NSW Forests remains culturally contemptuous to NSW forest

Forests NSW recruit their students with Communications degrees to lie for it on its website:

“State forests in NSW are managed sustainably to provide a supply of timber today and into the future, to protect the environmental values of the forest and provide community amenities.”

Forests NSW website claims that “Ecologically sustainable forest management (ESFM) is our guiding philosophy. ESFM is about managing forests to maintain ecological principles and biodiversity while optimising the benefits to the community from all uses of the forest…”


Revolving Door politics of NSW Labor

In the revolving door politics of NSW Labor, Premier #3 Nathan Rees on 16th November 2009 sacked Ian MacDonald from his DPI Ministry. Rees was himself sacked as premier on 3 December, then a week later, Labor Premier #4 Kristina Keneally reappointed Ian MacDonald Minister for State & Regional Development and Minister for Mineral & Forest Resources in December 2009.

The labeling of Minster for ‘Forest Resources’ leaves NSW State Forests in no doubt about the death row status. Throughout NSW Labor’s factional power shuffle Macca’s chair never got cold.

DPI Minister, Tony Kelly, overseeing Forests NSW, claimed on 18 November 2009 “The NSW Government has a solid track-record for maintaining prosperous and sustainable primary industries, I will be working hard with industry to ensure this tradition continues.”[SOURCE]



This author’s position

All State Forests should be added to Australia’a National Park Estate. Boral and Nippon Paper can transition their logging operations into plantation-only FSC resources.

The Twofold Bay Woodchip Mill was set up near Eden in 1969 by Daishowa Paper Manufacturing Company over 35 million tonnes of native forest chips have been exported, mostly to Japan.

In contributing to the annihilation of thousands of hectares of Australia’s native forest habitat the Twofold Bay Woodchip Mill is Australia’s Habitat Auschwitz.

It must be unceremoniously closed down immediately.