Barbaric forest destruction for a coal mine continues, while coal price falls through floor, Whitehaven share price at new lows
“I am also very concerned about the plight of the koala, a threatened species which is very much loved in Japan and an iconic Australian animal. The Leard Forest used to have enough critical habitat for the koala, but Idemitsu and Whitehaven have made it virtually uninhabitable for koalas.” – Japanese researcher Akira Harada, Director of the Japan Tropical Forest Action Network (JATAN) on a visit to ground truth company statements about the mine.
Leard State Forest is the largest area of remnant vegetation remaining in the Liverpool Plains. The forest is home to 396 species of plants and animals and includes habitat for 34 threatened species and several endangered ecological communities. Local activists estimate the mine plans would destroy more than 5000ha of the forest, including 1,082ha of rare Box-gum Woodland.
Whether it is a new Canberra suburb overrunning native grassland, a climate change-spurred intense bushfire or a coal mine in northern NSW destroying a state forest and its ‘protected’ species, habitat destruction continues to cause the biggest loss of biodiversity in this country.
In fact, the destruction of the Leard State Forest between Gunnedah and Narrabri in northern NSW by Whitehaven Coal and its Japanese partners, is ecological vandalism on a world scale – sanctioned by both major political parties in NSW, and at a time when the coal price is hardly making the business viable.
It’s a poster child for what is wrong with NSW and Australia’s clinging devotion to coal miners. Effects on farmland and groundwater, threats to sacred sites, and the noise, dust and health risks of living next to a coal mine are other top issues for locals and critics from around the country.
For three years people have protested and blockaded in the woodland and forest, making it the longest running direct action campaign against fossil fuels in Australia. It has brought together neighbouring farmers and townspeople, the local Gomeroi Aboriginal people, and people from across NSW and the ACT including religious leaders, academics, students, ‘knitting nannas’ and families, entertainers and sports people – football great David Pocock was pictured on the Bulletin cover December 2014, locked on to an excavator and subsequently arrested
Yet the destruction continues.
Not far away in the equally precious Pilliga forest, other farmers and activists are taking on Santos for its coal seam gas extraction activities there.
Now the call has gone out for people to join 2016’s ‘The Bats Return’ campaign from 13 February to end of March to try and protect what remains of the Leard State Forest, and let the country know what is happening. Frontlineaction.org has the details. The Bulletin will have a further report in March.