Protesters take action to stop logging in Helms Forest near Nannup

Mace Clarion has locked arms around the blade of a timber-jack to stop logging from occurring in Helms Forest near Nannup. Image supplied.
Mace Clarion has locked arms around the blade of a timber-jack to stop logging from occurring in Helms Forest near Nannup. Image supplied.

Logging has been brought to a standstill by forest defenders in Helms and McCorkhill Forests near Nannup on August 3, 2020.

One protester has locked them self onto a logging machine and another has taken to a platform 20 metres above the ground.

Helms Forest is located about 10 kilometres west of Nannup and has been the release site for endangered black cockatoos from the neighbouring Jamarri Black Cockatoo Rehabilitation Centre for the past 25 years.

It is a high conservation value jarrah forest and has been the subject of calls for protection from environmentalists and local residents for decades.

McCorkhill Forest is further along Mowen Road from Nannup towards Margaret River. It is a highly diverse, ancient jarrah forest that is known habitat for black cockatoos, Quokkas and other wildlife.

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One protester Mace Clarion has locked arms around the blade of a timber-jack in Helms Forest determined to prevent the machine from operating for as long as possible.

"I am locking on out of sense of desperation. We are facing combined climate and ecological crises and it's essential that we immediately protect native forests," Clarion said.

"Native forests are critical allies in our efforts to avert climate chaos and prevent wildlife extinctions, but we're still chopping them down, and largely for firewood, charcoal and woodchips. It's insane and it has to stop.

"Helms is internationally recognised as an Important Bird Area for the number of breeding pairs of endangered Carnaby's and Baudins Cockatoos it supports. It is also essential habitat for quokkas and other wildlife.

"I actually can't believe that we have to do this to stop the logging of such a precious forest. It should be criminal to be logging native forests like these in this day and age."

Dominique Chanovre is suspended from an ancient jarrah tree on a platform about 20-metres above the ground. Image supplied.

Dominique Chanovre is suspended from an ancient jarrah tree on a platform about 20-metres above the ground. Image supplied.

Permaculture consultant Dominique Chanovre is suspended from an ancient jarrah tree on a platform about 20-metres above the ground.

Mr Chanovre's platform is connected to two logging machines, also in Helms Forest, which is preventing them from moving until he his brought down from the tree.

Mr Chanovre said protecting native forests was one of the most effective and immediately available actions we can take as a society to reduce the impacts of a warming planet and create a resilient, survivable future for future generations.

"It only requires the Premier's decision to change the forestry policy and create a sustainable plantation industry instead," he said.

"I see a better future for everyone if we do this."

Protesters in Helms Forest near Nannup

Forestry minister David Kelly said we live in a society where people have the right to protest, and he understood that some people have strong feelings about how WA's native forests are managed.

"However I would ask protesters to act in a way that doesn't put their lives or that of forestry workers in danger, or put at risk the safety of all those concerned," he said

"The Helms 0119 forest coupe is located within State forest and is available for timber harvesting under the Forest Management Plan 2014 - 2023.

"The Helms 0119 coupe has a total area of 741 hectares with 299 hectares of the coupe excluded from harvesting operations, including all areas of old-growth forest and fauna habitat zones.

"Harvesting operations will follow the Department of Biodiversity and Attractions' Silvicultural Guideline for Jarrah Forest which ensure the retention of habitat trees to assist in the protection of native fauna."

Protesters in Helms Forest

Mr Kelly said 62 per cent or more than 1.4 million hectares of WA's native forest was in formal and informal reserves and not available for harvest which includes all old growth forest.

"In accessing regrowth State forest available for harvesting, detailed planning is undertaken to recognise and manage all values," he said.

"The native forest sector contributes $220 million to the West Australian economy and supports the employment of more than 800 people.

"While community members have the right to protest it is important that protesters do not take actions that put themselves or forestry workers in danger."

School Strike for Climate spokesperson Siobhan Sutton is on the ground in support of the action taken by the protesters.

Ms Sutton said at this point it felt like they were in a truck that's driving towards certain demise.

"The climate crisis will affect all of us, but my generation are the ones that will feel the consequences for the rest of our lives if we don't stop this senseless vandalism," she said.

"Logging our future at financial loss truly shows the ridiculous lack of regard for my future. We must take action now to ensure that that future exists."

A WA Police spokesperson said police were in attendance but were not aware of any arrests at this stage.

This story Protesters take action to stop logging in Helms Forest near Nannup first appeared on Busselton-Dunsborough Mail.