By Takesa Frank
What do you do when your forest home is under attack from the forestry industry? You take strong action as Takesa Frank did very recently. Even more distressing is the knowledge that these magnificent native forests are being destroyed for low value wood chips, firewood and pallets. This is Takesa’s story.
On Monday 6th March at 3:30 am I started my climb up a tree in the Shallow Crossing State Forest. I was suspended 20 metres above the ground in a tree sit, cabled to four logging machines. This daybreak action was supported by over a dozen South Coast locals.
Late in the morning four police arrived in two cars and a paddy wagon. After several hours the police insisted the group of locals move on. Sue Higginson MP was onsite and negotiated to have two supporters stay at the protest site.
I had company for most of the day as a goanna climbed the tree to join me (in solidarity, I think). Whilst at times the goanna was scary when it was close to my tree sit. Most of the day it was just soaking up the sun on branches above me. I gained an even deeper respect and appreciation for our natural environment during my time in the tree sit.
Two police rescue officers spent the afternoon tying off the cables from the tree sit to four logging machines. These four logging machines included a bulldozer that had been cutting new snigging roads down the steep mountainside to the creek, two harvesting machines that cut the trees down then cut the treetops, branches and bark off, and a snigger used to pick up the cut tree trunks, pile them and load them onto logging trucks.
Once the tree sit was free from the cables, I came down just before 5pm.
The police formally advised me onsite and my details were taken. I am likely to be charged at a later date, potentially in relation to provisions within forestry regulations. These same provisions led to the police directing the group of locals who were protesting to save these forests and end native forest logging to leave this public forest. The police were respectful throughout the day and the community appreciated their professional and nonviolent handling of the forest protest.
I took this action to raise the stakes as the major parties are ignoring the call from the bush to end native forest logging. My family fought the fires to protect our home and the neighbouring Shallow Crossing State Forest.
Now, for the last three years, all we hear is big old trees crashing to the ground and heavy machinery bulldozing new roads and destroying our mountainside.
Our group of Clyde River locals has lobbied politicians tirelessly to protect the state forest surrounding the pristine Clyde River. We were shocked when logging of the Sheep Track near the Berry Farm recommenced straight after the fires. Protecting the catchment of the pristine waterways of the Clyde River is also essential for the local oyster industry. Here at Shallow Crossing on the Clyde River, holidaymakers come to be surrounded by the beauty of nature.
In 2022 I started a petition to end native forest logging which gained wide public support with over 21,000 signatures. The petition called for an end to native forest logging and a transition to 100 per cent plantations. Rather than heed this plea from the bush, the coalition government pushed ahead with a ‘business as usual’ rebuttal before the petition was even debated, in October last year in parliament.
Our public native forests need to remain standing for biodiversity, for carbon storage and for regional recreation. This election, South Coast locals need to vote to protect their forests. We no longer accept wasting NSW taxpayer money subsidising a loss making, out-of-date industry. Right now, 40,000 tonnes of woodchips from our forests are being loaded for export.
There are over twenty-three compartments slated for logging on both sides of the Clyde River and over 4,700 hectares of the lower Shoalhaven. These spotted gum, stringybark and ironbark forests are being logged mainly for low value wood chips, firewood and pallets.
Of great concern to locals is the fate of Big Spotty which at over 72m is the tallest spotted gum in the world and well over 500 years old. Big Spotty is in North Brooman compartment 50 which is formally listed by FCNSW as proposed for logging.
We need to protect our native forests. Wildlife depends on these ecosystems to survive. Humans too rely on these forests to keep our air clean and absorb excess carbon from the atmosphere. Without forests our future is bleak. That is the reality and what we do now and every day from now on matters immensely. People such as Takesa Frank are the heroes of our time.
Feature photo: Takesa Frank back on the ground at end of tree sit day protesting against logging of our native forests. Photo supplied