South Sister St. Marys, Tasmania

South Sister

diary of events

[This will be a record of events from 21 February, 2005 when Forestry Tasmania moved road making machinery up to South Sister prior to logging.]

update 2006/12/17

Recent severe bushfires in the St Marys area have sadly resulted in both South and North Sister being burnt. On December 10, 2006 a fire ravished the South Sister followed by burning of the North Sister late that night. The coupe and beyond (southern and northern slopes, the rocky peak) have all been severely burnt.

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update 2006/11/23

Three lichens identified on the South Sister (close to the coupe) by esteemed Herbarium Lichenologist Gintaras Kantvilas were nominated for listing on the Threatened Species List earlier this year ...

Despite Ralph Rallings providing information in the form of a Review Paper to RMPAT, Ombudsman, Forestry Tasmania, the former Minister of Forests, Bryan Green and most recently the Premier (who has taken over the Forest portfolio) for the past twelve months, none of the above are interested in investigating the false and misleading evidence provided by McIntosh and Weldon to RMPAT last year. Read the review and see for yourself how the conclusions reached by FT's experts remain in doubt by SOS experts ...

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update 2006/07/09

SOS applicants were very relieved to be informed on Friday July 7 that the costs application made by Forestry Tasmania to Resource Management and Planning Appeals Tribunal was dismissed.

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update 2006/03/12

The Forest Practices Authority has gone back on their word to investigate any new evidence presented to them regarding Coupe NI 114A at South Sister.

In a letter from Graham Wilkinson, Chief Forest Practices Officer for Forest Practices Authority on February 25, 2005 he stated that FPA would '... consider any new information that is relevant to the logging of the coupe'. Yet new evidence was presented in February 2006 which has been ignored.

In that letter I stated that Ralph Rallings (Engineer working for Save our Sisters) ... believes there would be additional subsidence on Coupe NI 114A that has not yet been investigated. This subsidence relates to the Jubilee Mine.'

More ...

update 2006/01/24

The South Sister is still hanging on but we fear it will only be days or weeks before the chainsaws arrive.

Despite having evidence that Forestry Tasmania's experts presented misleading and false information about key features within the coupe in September, 2005, the 'independent' watchdog, Forest Practices Authority (FPA) has ignored this information and continue to support Forestry Tasmania's decision to log the area where a previous landslide has occurred.

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update 2005/11/26

Despite SOS withdrawing from The Resource Management and Appeals Tribunal Hearing on September 30, 2005, lobbying of Forestry Tasmania (FT), Forest Practices Authority (FPA) and Minister of Forests Bryan Green continues, to have the proposed logging of Coupe NI 114A stopped.

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update 2005/10/01

It is with great regret and enormous disappointment that the SOS applicants had to withdraw late yesterday afternoon from the scheduled hearing at RMPAT with Foresty Tasmania.

The legislation (Environmental Management and Pollution Control Act (EMPCA)) required our experts to establish that landslip was 'likely'. On Wednesday September 30 Forestry Tasmania experts submitted a further three reports to the Tribunal which were then reviewed by our experts. As recommended by SOS experts in their earlier reports, further surveys had been carried out by Forestry, some of which partially satisfied one of our experts and he therefore had to change his opinion from 'likely to cause a landslip' to 'possibly cause a landslip'. His inability to hold the opinion 'likely to cause a landslip' was insufficient therefore for us to proceed to the Tribunal.

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update 2005/09/28

In late August, the barristers acting pro-bono for SOS (James Johnson and Roland Browne) met with the experts and applicants and visited the site. The legal team reviewed the evidence from both parties and suggested a different approach to the hearing.

SOS has always argued that there is inadequate understanding of groundwater systems and Forestry Tasmania should thoroughly assess the risks to local water supplies before logging South Sister. Unfortunately, the Environmental Management and Pollution Control Act 1994 (EMPCA) places a high burden of proof on the applicants to show that harvesting will cause environmental harm, rather than on FT to show that it will not. Having regard to all the evidence, the current lack of information about the groundwater system and the cost of undertaking necessary studies, it will be very difficult for the applicants to prove harm. Therefore, while we remain concerned about the impact of forestry operations on the quality and quantity of our water supplies, we decided not to pursue these issues at the Tribunal and to concentrate on the demonstrable risk of landslip.

more details ...

update 2005/08/19

In late February of this year, Forestry Tasmania was summoned to appear before the Resource Management and Planning Appeal Tribunal (RMPAT) to defend allegations that logging South Sister Coupe NI 114A was likely to cause environmental harm. The Tribunal was satisfied that there was a prima facie case to answer. On August 19, 2005 Forestry Tasmania submitted its evidence stating that logging of 108 ha at South Sister will not harm the groundwater system and land stability of the area. This evidence will respond to the substantial evidence presented in May this year by David Leaman, Ralph Rallings, Owen Ingles, Davis Stapledon and others on behalf of SOS.

more details ...

update 2005/07/06

SOS members are outraged and appalled that Forestry Tasmania has extended the deadline for the exclusion zone on Coupe NI 114A on South Sister until December 31, 2005.

The initial exclusion zone became effective February 15, 2005 and was due to expire on June 30, 2005 however, SOS members have been informed that the period had been extended. This is an absolute outrage!

More details ... ...

Update 2005/06/02

The Final Hearing, due to start June 6 for Save our Sisters v Forestry Tasmania has been postponed until October.

Experts for SOS performed field studies in April and prepared proofs of evidence which were submitted to the Tribunal on May 9. Due to their evidence, an application to amend the Grounds of Application was lodged. In an earlier decision by RMPAT, some of our claims had been dismissed but with evidence from experts to support these claims, SOS sought to have them reinstated (along with additional points). Forestry Tasmania did not support the amendments therefore a Directions Hearing was held in Hobart on May 13 to hear the conflicting views. The pro-bono barrister did an excellent job in putting our case forward. The Tribunal failed to reach a decision during the Hearing and asked for additional information which was submitted the following week May 18, 2005.

more details ...

Update 2005/05/02

Scientific experts have now made their final visits to the area to conduct more field studies. All reports have been submitted to EDO and will be submitted to the Tribunal as requested by May 6, 2005. Forestry Tasmania will then have until 17th May to respond to the reports and submit their evidence.

The field studies went well with Ralph Rallings and David Stapledon combing the area both on and around the coupe for previous landslides. Many have been found and documented (reports will be forthcoming at a later date).

more details ...

Update 2005/03/19 - 23:32

final hearing to proceed ...

SOS members welcomed the second decision by the Chairman of the Resource Management and Appeals Tribunal (RMPAT) on Friday March 18, 2005 that the Final Hearing would go ahead as planned on June 6, 2005.

Forestry Tasmania had been unhappy with the first decision (Hearing on March 4) and had made a submission stating that there should be no listing for a final hearing as the temporary order had been refused. In addition, they were dissatisfied that the applicants had a 'proper interest' and requested them to show that they indeed did have standing. FT had also submitted during the first hearing that the conduct of harvesting would not lead to environmental harm but rather, would be a consequence. Therefore they asked that the Tribunal address this issue.

The Environmental Defender's Office (EDO) which represent the applicants, submitted information on March 15 as requested, and the Chairman ruled that "information given at this stage satisfies the Tribunal that each of the remaining applicants is prima facie a person with a proper interest as required by section 48 of the Act". The Chairman's conclusion was that "... remains listed to proceed upon the dates directed by the Tribunal; and the existing directions as to the exchange of evidence continue to apply".

more details ...

Update: 2005/03/09

Media Day with over 100 supporters attending - images

Update: 2005/03/07 - 21:13 - final hearing 6-8 june

tribunal decision not favour

Forestry Tasmania moves machinery to the coupe

able ...

On Friday March 4, 2005 a hearing was conducted at the Resource Management and Planning Appeals Tribunal (RMPAT) between residents opposed to the logging of South Sister and Forestry Tasmania.

The Environmental Defender's Office (EDO) represented the Applicants and sought the issue of a temporary stop work order to Forestry Tasmania. Unfortunately this was not forthcoming despite the Chairman of the Tribunal being "satisfied that there is a prima facie case established by the evidence tendered on behalf of the applicants".

Forestry Tasmania sought an undertaking from the applicants that should Forestry win the case, the Applicants would have to pay approximately $50,000 per week for an estimated 9 to 10 weeks (= $500,000 for lost harvest time). FT argued that contractors would not have other coupes available to harvest during the time that they would be required to stop work.

Update: 2005/03/07

Blockade goes up at South Sister

Update: 2005/03/02 - 12:32

Forestry summoned

An application was made by concerned residents and members of Save our Sisters group to the Resource Management and Planning Appeals Tribunal last week. Fortunately the application was accepted and a summons was issued to Forestry Tasmania on Monday February 28th. A stop work order was not issued yet applicants are hopeful that this will be granted at an initial hearing which will take place this Friday March 4, 2005.

The applicants have expressed their concerns that Forestry Tasmania will cause serious environmental harm with a focus on water quality and increased risks of landslides.

In support of the application, scientific reports and opinions from nationally and internationally recognised experts were submitted. These include the reports of Dr David Leaman, Dr Owen Ingles, Mr Ralph Rallings, Mr David Stapledon, Dr Leonie van der Maesen, Mr M Latinovic, and published reports on the area from Mineral Resources Tasmania.

SOS members consider that this will be the first time an independent judiciary will hear the pleas from the community.

The vigil continues with many visitors coming from far and wide. The support from the local community has been excellent with donations of food, firewood and other supplies forthcoming.

A few people have now pledged money in support of legal costs; this is most welcome.

The roading continues and is close to completion. All landings are now graveled, the new road has been surfaced and the South Sister Road has been resurfaced within the coupe and parts beyond that to the summit have also been improved.

It is possible that FT will commence logging prior to the Tribunal hearing on Friday however SOS members consider that this would be incredibly unprofessional if this were the case (although they have been less than professional in the past few weeks so - anything can happen).

Update: 2005/02/27 - 18:22

FT spent the entire week (February 21 - 25 inclusive) working on the roads on South Sister. The area was not accessible to residents or tourists on Wednesday (from 06:00 to 22:00), Thursday (06:00 to 18:30) or Friday 25 (06:30 to 14:00 hours).

Work to date has included the following:

Gravelling of the road is expected to take place week starting February 28, 2005 and logging to begin soon after.

Numerous people have visited the site in the past week including local residents, other Tasmanians and interstate and international tourists. A bus load of tourists was unable to make the trip up the mountain due to the road closure on Thursday 24, 2005.

The vigil continues with widening support for the campaign.
SOS members continue to explore legal options. Watch this space for legal information in the next couple of days.

Those people who are interested in pledging money towards legal costs please download and print the Pledge. Send your donation to SOS in St Marys.

Update: 2005/02/25

Images of the day.

All landings are now in and the new road has been pushed through the coupe. The South Sister Road has been upgraded in places with culverts put in place and parts of the road widened.

The Euphrasia collina ssp. deflexifolia has been destroyed at the first corner (Euphrasia .... used to be present at this site but was destroyed due to the widening of road) - it would appear straightening of the road has not been possible and therefore, the road has been widened for trucks to negotiate the bend. Hence, the Euphrasia has been sacrificed.

The area was unable to be accessed until 8 pm last night as machines continued their work until dark. Roading will continue with gravel laid in the next day or so prior to the onset of logging.

Members of the community continue to hold a vigil with numerous visitors from far and wide visiting throughout the day.

Lobbying continues; legal advice is being sought and action is being contemplated.

Update: 2005/02/22 - 18:01

Images of Day 2

50 people visited the vigil for South Sister which is being held at the road entrance to South Sister. Some of them observed a front end loader and truck with culvert pipes entering the site. Photos taken today show that landings are well and truly visible and the new road being put through the western half of the coupe is allegedly almost complete.

Information about the campaign including the audit and reports are available for those who are interested at the site. Other display boards with photos are on show and there is South Sister merchandise for sale (t-shirts, caps, pens, postcards, plants).

Residents will continue the vigil until further notice!

A few functions are being organised for later this week

Update: 2005/02/21 - 21:54

Images of Day 1

The vigil will continue to provide information to community members and visitors about the reasons logging should stop on South Sister. All reports, submissions, maps, Forestry documents etc will be available for the general public to read at the junction of South Sister Road and German Town Road.

All are welcome to come and have a cup of tea or coffee, read the information we have, purchase a t-shirt or pen to help us raise money or just sit and look at the marvellous bush around.

Members of SOS continue to lobby politicians both state and federal, Forestry Tasmania, Forest Practice Board and the media to stress the point that Forestry have not continued with the consultation process. All information received today after the roading began failed to address the numerous questions asked of FT and the reports provided to them.

Members of SOS and the general public will not give up the fight but they need your support!

Update: 2005/02/21 - 12:58

At 6 am this morning the Forestry arrived and informed the people attending the South Sister vigil that their cars were incorrectly parked and he wanted them to move.

A policeman and the St Helens Inspector came to the scene and asked the protesters to move their cars.

All but one car was able to be moved - the last car had a flat tyre and the owner was unable to move the car until the tyre had been pumped up in St Marys (after the garage opened at 9 am).

The fire brigade was called to put the campfire out which stood at the end of South Sister Road and the trucks were then able to unload their five earth moving machines.

Protesters noticed that some of the excavators were obviously not cleaned after their last job and asked Forestry about this (The Forest Practice Plan indicates that all machines will be washed before entering the site). FT informed the protesters that the trucks and machines would have the necessary paper work indicating they had been cleaned at the end of their last job but did not offer to show the papers.

Despite water being available to wash the trucks, the Fire Brigade members did not wash them and they proceeded to drive onto the South Sister with obvious mud, weeds and bark on their tracks.

A total of 3 excavators and 2 bulldozers have now passed up the mountain and have started work.

SOS Members are astonished that the Forestry can go ahead when they have not yet informed the community of the audit, questions and reports submitted on February 7, 2005. The Forestry worker who arrived this morning informed one of the SOS spokespersons that a reply had been sent last Thursday yet this had not arrived BEFORE 6 am today! Hence the consultation process has not been completed and Forestry have steam rolled the community.

Update: 2005/02/21 - 06:37

Vigil started last night - campers are there however Forestry Tasmania has just arrived and police are on their way.

Update: 2005/02/20 - 23:02

A vigil has now started on South Sister - Sunday February 20th saw the arrival of the first campers.

Everyone is welcome to visit or camp if they are interested - either a cup of tea or coffee, a walk on the mountain, sign the visitor's book or camp.

The vigil is taking place at the top of German Town Road where it meets South Sister Road.

Information about the campaign including community audit and scientific reports forwarded to Forestry Tasmania and Forest Practices Board available at the site.

T-shirts, pens, caps, posters for sale on site.

Take the road opposite the pub in St Marys (Franks St/German Town Rd) and head up for 4.5 kms.

Once at the top of the mountain you will see a small sign saying South Sister Lookout. Camping sites are available both sides of the road.

ALL WELCOME

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