Wednesday, August 25, 2004

WA police break-up forest protest camp

By Chris Latham

On August 17, 40 police broke up the six-week-old Forest Rescuers' protest camp in the Ludlow Forest near Busselton in south-west Western Australia, evicting 70 protesters.

The move against the camp followed the granting of final approval to the Cable Sands' mineral sands mine in the Ludlow forest — the world's last remaining tall tuart forest, on August 16.

The WA Labor government, which faces losing the local seat of Bunbury in the coming state election without Green preferences, has been attempting to downplay the possible impact of the mine.

State development minister Clive Brown told the August 18 West Australian, that the Ludlow Forest " not a tuart forest, it is an old-growth forest, it is degraded plantation land".

However, the anti-mining campaign has never claimed that Ludlow is an old-growth forest, but that it is rare ecosystem — part of the last remnants of the tuart forests that were heavily logged into the 1970s.

In 2002, the National Trust listed the Ludlow Forest as an endangered place in response to Cable Sands' proposal to mine the area. The Environmental Protection Authority has authorised the logging of 1185 trees, stipulating that 70% of trees older than 100 years must be preserved, while only 50% of those trees between 80-100 years old must preserved.

However, Friends of the Tuart Forest have raised concerns about the future health of the remaining trees due to possible damage to root systems from Cable Sands' intention to mine to within four metres of mature trees.

The campaign to protect the forest continues. A new camp has been set up in the Ludlow Forest. To find out about getting involved in the campaign, upcoming protests or how to visit the camp, visit the Save the Tuarts website ().

From Green Left Weekly #596.

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