Film tells tale of Otway forestry battle

CLEARFELLING of bio diverse native forest on public land in the Otway Ranges ended in 2008 and the five-year anniversary of this environmental achievement will be celebrated when the Lorne Film Festival premieres the short film ‘Forest for the Trees’ later this month.

The documentary highlights the successful community campaign organised by the Otway Ranges Environment Network. The grassroots action between 1996 and 2008 led to the creation of the Great Otway National Park. And what an achievement it was. From an environmentalist’s perspective~, a total ban on. Clear-felling across an entire geographic region was unprecedented. The Otway’s represents the only to do what was needed to be done high rainfall tall forest region in to save the forests, to take Australia, where an existing and responsibility for their own actions well established native forest, and to be mindful of what other wood-chip industry has been totally activists were doing removed.

This deliberate democratic the outcome is a tribute to an approach to decision-making great number of small grassroots meant that OREN incorporated and community groups. In Geelong, the array of people, ideas, actions and Geelong Environment Council and strategies. Many of the people who Geelong Community Forum played took part in 40 blockades between critical roles in raising public 1996 and 2002 were arrested for awareness, backed up with strong obstructing logging.

Support from the Greater Geelong and on some occasions, the City Council and Surf Coast Shire. Geelong courts found logging was the film tells the story of OREN unlawful and protesters were found by focusing on the group’s not guilty. Grassroots governance, strategies on at least eight occasions, and the internal struggles. blockades, or threats of action, OREN’s governance was based forced the State Government to on a non-hierarchical decision- relocate logging contractors to making process, similar to other less contentious forest areas “deliberative democracy”. So they could keep working and those involved were encouraged their. licence commitments. Other key planks of the campaign included a successful consumer boycott campaign against Kleenex, action that forced the company to stop using woodchips from the Otway’s in 1998. The film also focuses on treachery within OREN’s own ranks.

That occurred when then premier Steve Bracks announced ‘ early during the 2002 state election campaign that, if re-elected, he would ban native forest logging Oy 2008. Then opposition leader Robert Doyle made it clear that the Liberal Party supported logging until at least 2020. Meanwhile, OREN clashed with more formally-organised environment groups such as The Wilderness Society, a group that sought a state-wide logging ban. TWS described the ALP policy to ban all Otway logging as a “small win” and refused to provide political support for it. However, it was the Greens who conveyed the greatest resentment toward the ALP’s Otway policy.

Seeking to differentiate itself from rival political parties, the Greens adopted a forest policy that sought a state-wide logging ban and embarked on a media campaign to belittle the environmental significance of the Otway logging ban.

The ALP won the 2002 election and went on to implement the Otway policies. Forests/or the Trees will screen at the Mantra Lorne on November 17 at 12.30pm as part of the Lome Film Festival.

OREN spokesman Simon Birrell is a spokesman for the Otway Ranges Environment Network.


This is the story the Otways Ranges Environment Network (OREN), a diverse grassroots network of people who devoted seven years of their lives to successfully end clearfell logging and woodchipping of biodiverse native forest in the Otways Ranges. Many in OREN suffered violence, incarceration, financial loss and finally abandonment by the peak environmental groups and the Greens Party yet won their campaign using a decentralised, regionally focused activist strategy. The film explores both the external and internal conflicts OREN faced, the highs and the lows and the unrelenting devotion of those involved, from activists living in trees to Collins street business-men. OREN still attracts attention as a case study to inspire similar campaigns around the world.


One response to “Film tells tale of Otway forestry battle

  1. Pingback: Climate Change | Paradigm Shift

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