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Activists arrested in Tasmanian forest

A five-week forest protest in the Tarkine has intensified after activists attached themselves to a Sustainable Timber Tasmania (STT) car, leading police to swoop in and arrest them. Source: Hobart Mercury

Bob Brown Foundation (BBF) protesters are currently maintaining a presence in the native forests bordering the Arthur and Frankland rivers, saying endangered species in the area, including Tasmanian masked owls, are being put at risk by logging operations conducted in forest coupe Frankland two A (FR002A).

The organisation is calling on the Rockliff government to end native forest logging entirely.

According to the BBF, three protesters, Ellie Martin, Ian McKenzie, and Alison Wardrop, “locked down” a road to a remote logging site on Friday morning.

Ms Martin and Mr McKenzie attached themselves to an STT vehicle that had been “blocking the public road”, while Ms Wardrop, attached herself to the road itself.

A Tasmania Police spokeswoman said police arrived at the scene about 8.30am, arresting three people and later charging them.

The spokeswoman said a 67-year-old man from Northern Tasmania had been charged with trespass and fail to comply with the direction of a police officer.

A 43-year-old woman from Victoria was also charged with trespass, as was a 71-year-old woman from the ACT.

It brings the number of arrests recorded at the protest site over the past five weeks to a total of 17.

STT general operations manager Greg Hickey said FR002A was a native forest regrowth coupe located on Permanent Timber Production Zone land and that protest activity there was creating “unnecessary safety risks for both protesters and forest contractors”.

“Protest activity at FR002A has included site presence and gate and machinery lock-ons,” he said.

“Protest activity has and continues to occur on various harvesting operations from time to time. Active protests will be managed in accordance with Sustainable Timber Tasmania’s well-established procedures.”

Resources Minister Eric Abetz said forestry activities had to be approved by the independent forest practices regulator, the Forest Practices Authority.

“[The BBF] will stop at nothing to end our sustainable native forestry sector and the many regional Tasmanian jobs it supports,” he said.

The Liberals are proposing to make an additional 39,000ha of native forest available for logging, despite states like Western Australia and Victoria moving to end the practice entirely.