Nannas up the ante | Mass protest halts Helms Forest logging

90 year old Ruth Carlsson, part of the mass protest which brought logging to a halt at Helms Forest this week. Photo: Supplied

90 year old Ruth Carlsson, part of the mass protest which brought logging to a halt at Helms Forest this week. Photo: Supplied

More than 40 grandmothers, describing themselves as 'Nannas for Native Forests' brought logging to a halt in Helms Forest between Nannup and Margaret River on Tuesday morning.

Spokesperson and Great-Grandmother Di Shanahan said they were requesting a face to face meeting with Ministers Dave Kelly and Stephen Dawson.

"We want them to meet us here - in these forests," she said.

"We want to have a conversation with them, not read the same copy of the letter or email response they have been sending out to our letters and emails for years.

"We want them to see and feel what is happening here and to hear and feel our grief, anger and concern for the future".

The Nannas for Native Forests moved in overnight, blocked the roads off with their cars, lit small fires for warmth and set up a marquee decorated by their colourful handmade banners.

The Nannas for Native Forests moved in overnight, blocked the roads off with their cars, lit small fires for warmth and set up a marquee decorated by their colourful handmade banners.

The Nannas for Native Forests moved in overnight, blocked the roads off with their cars, lit small fires for warmth and set up a marquee decorated by their colourful handmade banners.

The women said they want to see an end to the logging of all native forests in the South West and that they had taken the action out of frustration at the fact that logging is still going on, "despite declining forest health, loss of habitat and biodiversity, a drying climate, a huge decline in rainfall in the South West and ongoing community opposition."

They said they also hoped to inspire grandmothers elsewhere to take up the cause.

Peta Goodwin, one of the spokespeople for the first Grannies blockade said the "lid had been lifted" off the issue.

"People are horrified by what is happening in our publicly-owned native forests," she said.

"The Gallop government's decision in 2001 to stop logging in old growth forests due to community pressure did not do enough to protect them - the logging has been going on since then and still is.

"So much of the forest has been lost and we desperately need forests to regulate climate and safeguard biodiversity. All native forests are worth more standing.

"We need the McGowan Government to take some leadership on this."

The women said they did not discount further action should their request be refused or ignored, but they hoped that it would be met without fuss or delay.

State government don't plan on reviewing definition of old-growth forest

Forestry minister Dave Kelly said he regularly met with a range of stakeholders including representatives from the conservation sector.

"The McGowan Government is proud of its record in managing WA's native forests," he said.

"It was the Gallop Labor Government that ended the logging of old-growth forests. The McGowan Government has continued that ban.

"Western Australia's south-west native forests are managed under the Forest Management Plan 2014-2023 (FMP).

"The FMP provides a robust policy framework that strikes a balance between conservation and other activities, including native forest timber harvesting, honey production, tourism and recreation.

"Nearly 62 per cent of forest ecosystems on public land in the area are in existing or proposed conservation reserves or otherwise protected areas.

"Under the FMP all old-growth forest, around 334,000 hectares, continues to be protected from timber harvesting."

Mr Kelly said the Forest Product Commission only had access to 38 per cent of WA's native forest estate, and this excluded old-growth forest.

"The FPC annually harvests less than 1 per cent of this allocation. Every hectare of native forest harvested by the FPC is regenerated.

"The definition of old-growth forest used in WA is consistent with the National Forest Policy Statement, and the current procedures for assessment, identification and demarcation of old-growth forest were finalised in 2017 in consultation with the Conservation and Parks Commission.

"There are no current plans to review the definition."

The Forest Industries Federation of WA condemned the Helms Forest protest labeling it a "shameful publicity stunt."

FIFWA executive director Melissa Haslam said the actions of protestors was an unfair and unnecessary way of seeking attention, disrupting legal and sustainable logging operations.

"It shows a complete lack of regard for a family-owned business that contributes to the local economy and supports the local community," she said.

"It is obvious that this is a publicity stunt leading up to the state election.

"Helms is a sustainably managed regrowth coupe. It has been harvested before and will be selectively harvested now, then completely regenerated as it has in the past."

A WA Police Force spokesperson said members of the community have a right to voice their concerns through lawful protest activity.

"WA Police Force would like to thank everyone involved for conducting themselves in a professional manner, and encourage organisers of similar events to engage and cooperate with police to ensure protest activity is conducted safely and lawfully," the spokesperson said.