A brief history of activist activity in the Upper Florentine
Activist activity started in the forests of the Upper Florentine around March 2006. Just days after the State election, Forestry Tasmania rolled in the dozers and started pushing an ugly scar of a road into a pristine valley. Community response was immediate with independent activists and The Wilderness Society heading out into the Floz for the first of many peaceful protests.
September 2006 The Derwent Forest Alliance (DFA) held a very successful Threatened Species day in the Flozza and Friends of the Florentine held another one in November '07. October 2006 the DFA set up the first tree-sit, "The Lungs of the Land" to defend the area from Forestry Tasmania's planned devastation and a handful of determined individuals established the first Flozza camp.
November 2006 The Wilderness Society launched the World Heritage Watchtower, a tree top station 55m high in the Canopy of a giant eucalypt to highlight the immediate threat to another World Heritage Value Tassie forest. Around this time independent activists also moved into the Upper Florentine to join the campaign and kicked off a very hectic Summer of non-stop community protest in the Flozza with a lot of focus on the old growth coupe 42F, the blockading of a new road, town actions, petitions, articles, visiting bands, an incredible 12 volt forest cabaret and non-stop campaigning by all involved.
On 21st February 2007, The blockade was raided by over 40 police and Forestry Tasmania workers and 16 arrests were made over the following 3 days. However, a complex system of structures was built and Camp Florentine continued.
May 2007, Activists negotiated a moratorium on logging and roading in the valley until the federal election (Nov 2007). The moratorium (the flozza mozza!!!!) is now over and the Upper Florentine Valley is scheduled for logging RIGHT NOW.
Community activists from Still Wild Still Threatened have re-established the Camp Flozza Blockade and the campaign to save the ancient Forests of the Upper Florentine continues
October 2008, Logging commenced in coupe FO042E in the Upper Florentine valley and was met with two actions, one resulting with physical assault on protestors by contractors. Footage taken at the action went national in the media and highlighted the ongoing violence that protestors face in the forest.
Not long after his media attention two cars and the info hut were torched one night resulting in even more media coverage.
January 2009, The blockade was busted for the second time by 65 police and Forestry Tasmania workers. Again there were 16 arrests in the first 3 days and after the tunnel and dragons and winter shack were removed the machines came in and carved a massive scar a further 3km into the pristine valley, to be a logging road. After 11 days of continuous actions to try and slow down further road construction and logging the machines weretaken away and we started rebuilding on the road again.
In early May 2009 Forestry Tasmania came back into the area to log the coupe. A huge police operation that lasted a whole month accompanied FT's bulldozers chain saws and log trucks. Almost every log truck that left the area got a police escort of a dozen cops jogging alongside! The Cops had a mobile cop shop bus parked in the clearfell so they could process arrestees on site. The operation sucked most of the states police resources for the month of May as they maintained a constant 24 hour presence in the logging area for the entire month. Of course when the police association complained about the drain on resources, the government blamed us.
Such a massive police presence made it a lot harder to pull off stop work actions.
The logging of the first coupe was happening at un-precented rates, 12 logging machines were in there, usually you'd expect three or four for a coupe that size.
The machines were locked into a big steel cage each night to protect them from us.
The cage was penetrated successfully however these extreme measures like cages and 24 hour cop supervision for a whole month did make things a little harder.
Over 300 attended a peaceful community walk in action on Mother's day that saw 22 people from the local community arrested for entering the exclusion zone. 50 people bush walked through the forest into the exclusion zone and stoped work for the day.
Over 80 people have been arrested in the Upper Florentine this year.
Logging of 25 hectares of the 50 hectare coupe took about three weeks with police supervision until the very last truck left. Camp Florentine was set back up in the weeks after Forestry's withdrawal with a tree sit and three monopoles blocking the road. The remaining 25 ha is likely to be logged this summer.
9 more coupes of similar size remain in the valley. Camp Florentine and Still Wild Still Threatened will continue to blockade the Upper Florentine valleys old growth forest. Come and give us a hand in protecting these ancient temperate ecosystems.
Camp Florentine has continued for the last few years despite camp structures being destroyed and burnt more than once by FT, including a two story shack built by the community featuring an exterior wall made from salvaged celery-top pine slabs. At one stage there was nothing much of the camp left on the road until an old eucy fell down and blocked the road for us! The camp was then rebuilt around and over this massive log.
Since the state of limbo caused by the extremely strung out Tasmanian forests IGA (InterGovernmental Agreement), which started in November 2011 and has still not come to fruition, there hasn't been a high alert for the Upper Florentine Valley. Numbers at the camp were at a minimum as energy was focused elsewhere. Especially providing ground crew and support to Miranda Gibson, our colleague who ascended a giant eucalypt in the Styx forest on 14th December 2011. Miranda made this tree her home and her office for 450 days until she was forced down on the 7th March by a very suspect bushfire coincidentally burning within a kilometre of her tree...
The Upper Florentine as well as other areas worthy of protection (although not inclusive) has now also been nominated for World Heritage protection and we also await that outcome with bated breath. So for now it is relatively safe from the machines and SWST is now focusing it's energy on other threatened areas and those that are nominated for World Heritage protection but are still being logged. So we are in the process of minimising human presence on this quite famous logging road. Thankyou for all your positive comments and please feel free to visit the site and walk in this beautiful forest.