Winner, Best Creative Non-Fiction, IP Picks 2006.
This is the story of a seminal conflict between the forest industry and the conservation movement over rainforests in northern New South Wales. Nigel Turvey deftly presents the perspectives of both camps to draw lessons that have implications wherever environmental and industry interests collide.
The battle over logging the rainforests of Terania Creek in 1979 started the Rainforest War in New South Wales. Some claimed Terania Creek to be the last un-logged rainforest, but for the foresters and sawmillers it was the last rainforest they would plan to log. There followed a rash of clashes over logging rainforests across New South Wales which gave birth to the phenomenon of forest protests, began the decline of the native forest timber industry, and sullied the once noble reputation of foresters.
The peace plan in October 1982, known as the Rainforest Decision, started a process that saw the eventual closure to logging and reservation in national parks of 900,000 ha of native forest, or about one third of the productive State Forests of New South Wales.
A generation later the story looks in retrospect at the impact of the conflict on the lives of people on both sides: the chainsaw operator, the bulldozer driver, the forester, the bush boss, the sawmiller, the wide ranging professionals comprising the conservationists, as well as policemen, and politicians.
It is built on oral histories and juxtaposed memories, and documented by newspaper articles, photographs, film and television footage and transcripts and exhibits from the Terania Creek Inquiry.
The war was a clash of values and cultures, but three important lessons can be learnt from the conflict. These are the influence of the media, the role of science, and the spirituality of forests. These lessons can be applied to the conflict’s legacy, which is with us today in forest protests and political manoeuvring across Australia.