Faces of the Florentine
Ordinary people standing up for an extraordinary forest
Tuesday 23 March 2010
Upper Florentine ‘Mother’s Day’ Defenders Still in Court
The drawn-out saga that is the trespass case against 18 Upper Florentine forest conservationists, which is currently giving way for forest defenders to run an ‘abuse of process’ case, was again yesterday heard in the Hobart Magistrates Court. A final decision regarding the ‘abuse of process’ case will be handed down at 9.30am on 23 April.
The forest defenders made the tough decision to take on the ‘abuse of process’ case after Forestry Tasmania, in an extraordinarily desperate effort announced that they had miraculously unearthed a new and mysterious exclusion zone that the conservationists apparently entered when arrested in the Upper Florentine on Mother’s Day 2009.
The trespass charges were expected to have been withdrawn by Tasmania Police due to Forestry Tasmania’s more than 200-metre-wide bungle in defining its own exclusion zone, which created a test case regarding this same matter against Ellendale resident Lynda Blyth, to be dropped on 21st September after the police chose not to present any evidence about the apparent new exclusion zone.
The ‘new’ exclusion zone was so secret that Tasmania Police and Forestry Tasmania didn’t even know about it at the time of the arrests.
The conservationists, mostly middle-aged Derwent Valley and Central Highlands residents, are among the 22 people who were all arrested in the Upper Florentine forest on Mother’s Day this year. The arrests took place during a rally at which more than 200 people voiced their dissent against the destruction of the World Heritage quality values of the Upper Florentine forests.
The Upper Florentine valley is virtually surrounded by Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area and is largely untouched by industrial logging. The forest contains large areas of old growth forest that has been shown to be amongst the most carbon dense in the world, as well as caves containing evidence of Aboriginal occupation stretching back around 30 000 years.
Faces of the Florentine will continue to encourage fellow Tasmanians to visit the Upper Florentine forest to judge the situation for themselves.
Andrew Nicholson www.facesoftheflorentine.com