Brown jumps into the fray

Bob Brown was arrested at Lapoinya in the state's North-West last week.
Bob Brown was arrested at Lapoinya in the state's North-West last week.

TREES crashed down in Lapoinya's forest coupe as former Greens leader Bob Brown joined protesters against logging starting in the area.

He heard a bulldozer felling trees on Monday as Forestry Tasmania began to realise its plan to harvest 49 hectares of forest in the coupe.

"It kept going. It simply kept smashing down trees and ferns in the background," Dr Brown said.

He was arrested under state laws targeting protests in workplaces.

Dr Brown will face court in March.

The night before, he dined with residents and heard young people perform an anthem for Lapoinya.

He said it "wasn't on" to leave after police arrested two other residents.

"It's very hard to get that out of your mind, see the forest being smashed down, and think 'OK, I'll drive home'."

Dr Brown said he didn't intend to be arrested, but was aware of the anti-protest law.

He walked into the Lapoinya forest exclusion zone on Monday with three other people.

Dr Brown walked towards a bulldozer before he was arrested.

He denied the arrest would hinder the campaign to stop logging.

Opponents to FT's operation contacted him "late in the piece" and tried at first to campaign keeping the Greens at arm's length, he said.

The logging at Lapoinya is symbolic to Dr Brown, who decided to join the campaign and show solidarity with the small community.

"Lapoinya's the heart and soul of Tasmania and it's being bulldozed."


Devil of a problem

THE forest coupe is part of the permanent timber production zone agreed to by all parties to Tasmania's forestry peace deal, including the Greens.

Forestry Tasmania says the area, previously harvested 60 years ago, has no high conservation values.

Dr Brown said selective logging should be used in the coupe.

"The days of the clearfelling and firebombing logging operations should have been left to the last century."

FLAG similarly advocates selective logging as an alternative to clearfelling Lapoinya's forest, but FT has rejected the practice.

"This is not an economically viable option in forests of this type and also presents considerable safety concerns," an April 2015 internal review found.

"In addition ... selective harvesting leads to poorer regeneration of the forest following harvesting operations and potential ongoing safety issues for forest users."

FT uses elective harvesting methods in dry eucalypt forests, which are more open and do not have a dense wet understorey, according to Resources Minister Paul Harriss.

"Research has found that these forests will successfully regenerate from seed falling to the ground from retained trees.

"However, wet eucalypt forests, such as at Lapoinya, regenerate best when the entire canopy is removed and a mineral earth seed bed is created by burning."

FT plans to burn clear-felled zones and plant seeds to regenerate a similar forest for future harvest.

Dr Brown accused Mr Harriss of returning to divisive politics in forestry by ignoring Lapoinya's plea to stop logging.

But Mr Harriss accuses the protesters, who include Dr Brown, of trying to reignite the forest wars.

"The government has no intention of locking up production forest that even the Greens agreed should be harvested."

Dr Brown defended the Greens' endorsement of the Tasmanian Forest Agreement that included Lapoinya's coupe in the timber production zone, saying it was "formed by good-hearted people".

Tasmanian devils and giant freshwater crayfish would be threatened by logging the coupe, Dr Brown said.

No devil den sites have been identified there, and if found, logging operations would stop immediately before management prescriptions were adopted, according to FT.

FT plans to leave streamside bush reserves to protect giant freshwater crayfish larger than required by the state's Forest Practices Code.

Its internal review found the harvest plan either met or exceeded requirements set by state and federal environmental laws and standards.

To protect forest values and in response to community concerns, FT reduced its planned logging area from 92 hectares to 49.

Dr Brown said logging would still structurally alter the coupe and push species one step closer to extinction.

A pyrrhic victory?

THE state government had overridden Lapoinya and "picked on" a small community, Dr Brown said.

Mr Harriss has not visited the forest, but met community members.

FT began engaging with Lapoinya residents in August 2014 after including the coupe in its three-year production plan.

It delayed roading the coupe for logging from January 2015 to at least February 2015 for community members to provide evidence of special values.

The company is upgrading roads in the coupe and expects to log until March.

It aims to produce 1250 cubic metres of high quality saw logs, 450 cubic metres of lower quality sawlogs and 4300 tonnes of peeler logs.

The Burnie Chip Export Terminal will produce and export a further 6500 tonnes of pulpwood residues for paper production.

Dr Brown said it would be a "Pyrrhic victory" for FT, which he claimed would not profit from the operation.

The company claims the logging will be profitable.