This horrible thing is about to happen to one of the world’s oldest forests

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Feature Story - 29 October, 2013
Quick quiz: what do the habitats of threatened koalas, rich food bowls, vital water catchments and healthy farming communities have in common?

Leard State Forest in north-west New South Wales near the mining town of Boggabri. An open cut coal mine has been planned for the forest location. A bat is gently cradled as it warms up for release. September 2013, Leard State Forest, NSW. ©Abram Powell/Greenpeace

If your first thought was they are all protected by our governments so that future generations can enjoy and prosper from them, unfortunately you’d be wrong.

The correct answer is this: they’re all in danger of being destroyed by a massive open cut coal mine.

But this is not your average coal mine site. This mine will be built on a tract of woodland so important it’s been classified as ‘tier 1 biodiversity’. It’s so rare that only 0.1% of its original extent remains in the world in an undisturbed state. It is home to over 396 native species, 26 of which are threatened. That includes the koala, squirrel glider, corben's longeared bat, pale headed snake and barking owl.

The Leard State Forest will be flattened if the Maules Creek coal mine is allowed to go ahead. This mine, and the expansion of adjacent existing mines, will devastate local communities. It would dump 18,000 tonnes of dangerous dust per year on local farms and drain the water table by five to seven metres – not to mention the social problems associated with a fly-in-fly-out population.

Who are the people set to profit from the destruction of this forest and the nearby farmlands? None other than the infamous Whitehaven Coal. Some of Australia’s most eminent ecologists claim that the company used false and misleading information in order to satisfy environmental assessments, prompting the Federal Court to start an investigation. Now, they are only days away from bringing in the bulldozers to flatten the forest.

But the environmental movement is now standing up to Whitehaven is building and it’s getting stronger every day. Local farming communities, ecologists, bird watchers, concerned citizens from across Australia are saying no to Whitehaven and its coal mine in Maules Creek. They are coming together to stand up for the forest, for our agricultural heritage and for our families and our futures.

You can join them too. Here’s how:

  • Join us at the Whitehaven AGM in Sydney on Monday 4th November at 9.30am. It’s being held at the Australian Stock Exchange, 20 Bridge Street, Sydney.
  • Contact ANZ Bank and leave a message for the Michael Smith, CEO of ANZ Bank and lead financier of the Maules Creek mine. You can ask him why ANZ Bank sponsors zoos in Victoria and NSW in order to improve wildlife habitats, yet is funding the destruction of Leard State Forest.