Controversial logging of jarrah forest near Bridgetown, in WA’s South-West, has been suspended as protesters step up their fight to save woodland in the area.
The State Government halted logging operations in Dalgarup Forest last week amid concerns the area should be protected as old-growth and hours after police led protesters from the site.
A spokeswoman with the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions (DBCA) said harvesting had been temporarily stopped to allow officers to assess the forest.
“The DBCA will be visiting Dalgarup to ensure there are no areas of unmapped old-growth forest in the remaining area planned for harvest,” a spokesperson from the department said.
An emergency request was made to the State Government to address these concerns, said a spokesman for the South-West Greens.
The area of forest west of Bridgetown has been logged for jarrah trees since March-April, according to the Forest Products Commission website.
Forest Industries Federation WA (FIFWA) deputy executive officer Matt Granger has condemned the move which he said outsourced the decision-making to an “unaccountable and unqualified pressure group”.
“The particular pressure group (WA Forest Alliance) has a fundamental opposition to any native forest harvesting anywhere,” Mr Granger said.
If the DBCA certifies the area as old-growth forest, then all timber harvesting in the Dalgarup forest coupe will permanently shut down, Mr Granger said.
In 2001, the WA State Government abolished all harvesting in areas of old-growth forest, said a representative for the WA Department of Parks and Wildlife.
The Dalgarup forest is home to critically endangered western ringtail possums.
More than 334,000 hectares of old-growth forest was identified in WA.
South-West Greens MLC Diane Evers’ spokeswoman said only 12 hectares are left in the area of Dalgarup forest that was being harvested.
“The South-West forests are being harvested faster than they can grow back, which is causing significant environmental damage,” Ms Evers told the WA Legislative Council on the 19th of May.
Meanwhile, more than 2100 emails have been sent to the WA Ministers for Forestry and Environment Dave Kelly and Stephen Dawson protesting the Dalgarup logging.
“Dalgarup forest is teeming with life and the fauna in there, such as the critically endangered Western Ringtail Possum, are teetering on the edge of extinction,” WA Forest Alliance spokeswoman Jess Beckerling said.
“It should be criminal to be logging habitat for endangered wildlife.”
WA Minister for Water and Forestry Dave Kelly told the WA Legislative Assembly that his department did not support the logging of old-growth forests.
“We do support logging jobs in the forestry industry,” Mr Kelly said.
“What is happening in Bridgetown at the moment is that we are simply reassessing the coupe to make sure that no old-growth forest has been previously missed in the assessment of that coupe.”