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FED: Anti-logging activists blockade in Tasmania and Victoria

By Michelle Draper and Paul Carter
12 Jan 2009 7:57 PM
Subject: FED: Anti-logging activists blockade in Tasmania and Victoria FED: Anti-logging activists blockade in Tasmania and Victoria

MELBOURNE, Jan 12 AAP - Anti-logging activists have ignored police warnings to leave a protest camp in the Upper Florentine Valley.

Five protesters remain in tree sits at the camp, in a state forest, 100km west of Hobart.

About 15 protesters left the site on Monday morning at the request of police, who began dismantling the previously tolerated two-year-old site.

One man remains locked in a five-metre underground road tunnel and police were seeking advice from an engineer about how to safely remove the man, a statement from Tasmania Police said.

Christo Mills, a spokesman for the radical anti-logging group Still Wild, Still Threatened, said on Monday about 60 police officers in 30 cars arrived at the camp, including dog squad officers.

They set up a caravan command post and had two buses on hand to transport protesters.

Tasmania Police said the state forest authority, Forestry Tasmania, intended to carry out roadworks and some logging in an exclusion zone in the Upper Florentine valley area on Monday.

Police would ensure workers could go about their lawful business, a police statement said.

"People who are not authorised to be within the exclusion zone will be asked to leave," police said.

"Police have a duty and an obligation to take action when a protest or demonstration stops others from going about their lawful business."

The protesters have been provided with another site just outside the exclusion zone to continue their demonstration, a statement from police said.

Greens leader Bob Brown has taken a helicopter to survey the scene, Greens spokesman Russell Kelly said.

In Victoria, up to 30 conservationists have stopped logging operations in an old-growth forest in the state's east.

Two anti-logging activists remained on Monday night on wooden platforms attached to cables 30 metres up in the trees to stop bulldozers and other machinery from starting work in the forest at Stony Creek, in East Gippsland.

The group's spokeswoman Kate Reynolds said the two protesters would remain in the canopy overnight.

She said the state Labor party had promised at the last election in 2006 to protect 41,000 hectares of old-growth and iconic forest.

"The forest surrounding Stony Creek forms an integral link between existing national parks," Ms Reynolds said.

"Since the election promise over two years ago to save these areas, we have seen the government set aside degraded low value forest from logging while clearfelling the last eight per cent of Victoria's ancient forests.

"Mr (Premier John) Brumby must honour this election commitment and immediately protect old growth forests."

AAP md/jj=0A

FED: Anti-logging activists blockade in Tasmania and Victoria