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Fed: Neither side budges in Tassie forest showdown

13 Jan 2009 3:24 PM

CANBERRA, Jan 13 AAP - A showdown is looming in Tasmania's forests as police attempt to remove the last remaining protesters at a long-running logging blockade.

Six protesters are camped out in trees and a tunnel at the entrance to the Florentine Valley, 100km west of Hobart.

They want to stop Forestry Tasmania building a road into the valley and logging in the area.

"They are determined not to leave until they see the protection of the Upper Florentine area," said Ali Alishah, spokesman for the protest group Still Wild, Still Threatened.

"I know they will stay out the distance."

The Florentine Valley, located at the edge of Tasmania's wild south-west region, had never been logged and was world-heritage material, Mr Alishah said.

"It's pristine old-growth in the valley, the area there has never been touched."

But Forestry Tasmania said the two-year-old protest camp was a "slum" and an eyesore, and had to go.

"It's a launching pad for extremists to do illegal protests," said Steve Whiteley, Forestry Tasmania's Derwent district forest manager.

Just 10 per cent of the valley was available for logging. Of the planned coupes, some of the timber would go as sawlogs to local mills, he said.

None of the coupes would be clearfelled, the logged areas would be regrown as native forests using local seed, and no chemical fertilisers or pesticides would be used.

Police moved on the camp on Monday and began dismantling it. Most protesters left the camp, but three were arrested.

Tasmania Police issued a statement saying officers had stayed at the site overnight, and would be there on Tuesday "with the aim of removing remaining protesters".

Supporters of the protest held a rally on Hobart's parliament house lawns on Tuesday. Still Wild, Still Threatened said 200 people attended.