huon valley environment centre

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“I Will Not Trade Away The Earth”
by Jenny Weber and Lilia Letsch

Recently I collaborated on an artwork with my dear friend Jenny Weber, for the Weld Echo 2013 exhibition being held in Hobart, Tasmania (Feb 21-March 3). The exhibition is a fundraiser for grassroots forest defense campaigns in Tasmania.

Jenny wrote a powerful poem about her very personal experiences of being a forest activist in Tasmania - particularly a well known one who is often the target of rage from loggers and their families. We collaborated on ideas for how to lay the text out creatively, and I worked with one of the photos she supplied me of her at a forest action to create this end result. The piece sold on the opening night of the exhibition - to the leader of the Australian Greens!

I feel like the image really powerfully portrays the daily life of a forest activist in Tasmania - Jenny looks like she’s just going to work, with camera in one hand and a case in the other, but she’s surrounded by this really menacing environment and a logger looming over her. I think it says it all.

youtube

The short video was filmed three days ago in a forest in the Weld Valley, Tasmania, where new road making operations are being conducted right now.  A 1km road is being pushed in to previously unlogged forests, where a large scale cable logging operation is proposed to source timber for Ta Ann from steep slopes.

Yesterday, conservationists from the Huon Valley Environment Centre conducted a protest at the site of this new logging road. Ten people walked into the forests and staged a peaceful vigil in these forests that are habitat for the endangered wedge tailed eagle, where unlogged native forest with species such as the Eucalyptus regnans will be logged along the banks of the Huon River.

These new logging operations are a stark indication that there is a need for a fundamental policy change in Tasmania. The ongoing clearfelling of native forests is not acceptable. There is an urgent need for a transformation of the forestry industry and its silvicultural practices to focus on climate, water and wildlife as primary imperatives, driving forest restoration and protection.

The native forest in the Lower Weld Valley is not included in the proposed 572 000ha for protection under the recently collapsed negotiations. Yet it is an intact unlogged tract of native forest which is a watershed for the Huon River. An active Wedge-Tailed Eagle nest is nearby, in line of sight of this new logging area.

This lower Weld region has suffered a clearfelling assault over the past ten years, after the rapacious logging industry pushed in major logging roads, and a bridge over the Weld River.  All the while, local conservationists have been lobbying for protection of these forests and conducted peaceful protests in every logging coupe in the region.