Fighting for the forests

In 1973 Richard Routley and Val Routley (later Val Plumwood) published the 'The Fight for the Forests'. The subtitle says it all:  'The takeover of Australian forests for pines, wood chips and intensive forestry'. The Routleys identified a 'wood production ideology', focused on providing cheap wood for private industry, obsessed with self-sufficiency and determined to become a large woodchip exporter -- this all to be achieved by destroying some of the most beautiful and interesting forests in the world.

The ensuing conflicts have been playing out around the country ever since.  And still are. The singular achievement of RFAs has been to suppress coverage of forests as a national environmental issue, driving the focus of campaigns to states instead - exactly as intended.

Below are glimpses of just a few of the many hundreds of forest campaigns of the last 20 years.  We owe a huge debt of gratitude to the tens of thousands of people who have fought for the forests in the bush, the courts, the parliaments and the community.

Allana Beltran - Weld Angel

Weld Forest 2007

Campaigning for the Weld Forests of south-eastern Tasmania - the Weld Angel, Allana Beltran.  They arrest angels in Tasmania

Barrabup Forest

Barrabup 2017

Barrabup, near Nannup in south-west WA, slated for logging until the community stepped in.


Goolengook 1997-2002

Goolengook in the heart of East Gippsland, the site of Australia's longest-running forest blockade. Logging started on World Environment Day 1997 just four months after the RFA was signed  Environment East Gippsland

Mumbulla NSW

Mumbulla, Eden region 2016

Artists have been central to forest  protests - musicians, designers, visual artists, actors, writers, photographers and more

COAG demo

COAG demo 2012

In 2012 the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) adopted a Business Council plan to hand all environmental decisions to the states - as the RFAs do for logging. Protests followed

Reflex 2015

Nippon's Maryvale pulpmill turns Central Highlands ash forests into reflex paper. Market campaigns are one way to fight back

Tarkine protest

Tarkine 2017

The Tarkine/Takayna in north-west Tasmania, home to Australia's largest tract of cool temperate rainforest and threatened by logging and mining


Miranda Gibson

Observer Tree 2011-13

In 2011 Miranda Gibson began her 451 day tree sit high in the Observer Tree in Tasmania's southern forests, now protected as World Heritage.  The Observer Tree


Eden chipmill blockade 2011

Protesting against the Eden chipmill and plans to burn so-called forest 'waste' for energy

Citizen science

Citizen science, East Gippsland 2017

Citizen scientists play a critical role collecting evidence that governments can't or won't look for. Their work has underpinned numerous court cases

Lewin Forest

Lewin Forest, WA 2017

Another stunning forest in WA still standing thanks to community vigilance

Gunns 20

Gunns 20, 2004-10

In December 2004 Tasmanian logging giant Gunns Ltd sued 20 environmentalists for conspiracy, a classic SLAPP suit (strategic litigation against public participation). The case took a huge personal toll on those sued but in the end Gunns was the loser - it went under.  Gagged

No more RFA

End RFAs, 2017

RFAs have passed their use by date - time to throw them out