Opposition to a mining company’s proposed toxic waste dump in the takayna/Tarkine rainforest is growing by the day, in what has become one of the most significant civil-resistance stands in Tasmania’s history.
As of Monday, more than 100 people had been given ‘move on orders’ by Tasmania Police, meaning they are not permitted inside a zone spanning from the Meredith Range Regional Reserve in the west, to the edge of the Mackintosh Forest Reserve by the northern banks of Lake Rosebery in the east. The exclusions given to forest defenders range from a period of 14 to 21 days, and by returning to the area to protest they risk arrest. Bob Brown Foundation Campaign Manager Jenny Weber, stressed that this land, is “public land, Aboriginal land, takayna/Tarkine”. She called for supporters to join with the Bob Brown Foundation “to turn this red zone into a protected zone – for nature, not mining”.
Map of forest defender exclusion zone, north-west Tasmania. Courtesy of Bob Brown Foundation.
Since the Foundation’s Pieman Blockade Camp was shut down by Police back in mid-May, concerned citizens have returned daily to call for the protection of Australia’s largest temperate rainforest. At the time of publishing, 54 people had been arrested for locking onto machinery, delaying works, and refusing to move aside. From health professionals to farmers, veterinary surgeons, arborists, architects, academics, artists, tourism operators, grandparents, students and even a team of veteran cricketers, young and old have travelled to takayna to take a stand. This diverse group includes, Billy Rodwell, who was controversially held for three nights in a jail cell without being granted bail, and to who Tasmania Police made a formal apology.
“50 good citizens have been arrested for peacefully blockading forest-destroying machinery”
Last month, defenders were also able to re-establish a round-the-clock tree-sit, this time on the location of the proposed tailings dam. From the canopy they have been constantly monitoring and broadcasting footage of threatened wildlife. While the area above which a defender is suspended remains, for now, untouched, mining company MMG have already began clearing nearby for access roads as they await approval of their project.
“A cathedral-like rainforest, home of the world’s largest barn owl as well as Tasmanian devils and many other creatures, should be a world showplace. But Chinese government-owned mining company MMG is roading into a vital corner of Tasmania’s takayna/Tarkine rainforest to build a dam for toxic tailings from its silver-lead-zinc mine on the other side of the Pieman River. MMG has five options near the mine and does not need smash down this rainforest. Fifty good citizens have been arrested for peacefully blockading MMG’s forest-destroying machinery,” explained Bob Brown. He called on Australia’s Minister for the Environment, Sussan Ley, to make MMG choose another site for its tailings. “We will not give up on protecting this rainforest treasure until she does.”
And today could very well be the day. According to The Advocate, Ley flew into Tasmania yesterday, Wednesday, June 30, and met representatives of MMG at Rosebery. She is expected to meet with Dr. Brown this morning.
The Minister was originally due to make a preliminary decision about MMG’s tailings dam proposal by May 20, however, this deadline has been pushed out to July 23.
Find out how you can support the Bob Brown Foundation and the forest defenders here.
Banner image – The re-established treesit, where a forest defender keeps watch above a proposed toxic tailing dams site. Photo: Ramji Creations.