The Age (article), October 20, 2010
IT'S been on for young and old in the Upper Florentine for so long now that activists find it hard to believe their battle could be won.
Surrounded on three sides by the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area, this is a valley dominated by giant eucalypts, where a loose protest camp has run most of the past four years.
The camp has been been torn down, dozens of people arrested, protesters abused and assaulted, and their cars torched at night.
Yet the young people of Still Wild Still Threatened came back repeatedly to build intricate tree sits, protected by a spider's web of cables. And older local people who walked on to prohibited public forest coupes dubbed themselves ''Faces of the Florentine''.
Yesterday, with a road map unveiled to a final deal on protecting high-conservation-value forests, Bridie McEntee, 27, and Maggie Cashman Bailes, 70, went to the Upper Florentine to take stock.
Ms McEntee, a community worker, has spent two years with Still Wild Still Threatened, because she is moved by the Upper Florentine's environment.
''I love that it is a really intricate ecosystem, intact for thousands of years,'' she said.
She has blockaded, walked on to active clearfells to stop work, protested in Hobart, and been arrested for trespass. Yesterday she was hopeful the day of protection was close.
''To think in a few short months the Upper Florentine will be safe,'' she said. ''It would be a pretty amazing day.''
Ms Cashman Bailes, a bird expert alarmed at the rate nearby old-growth forests were being clearfelled, found herself increasingly immersed in a local residents' protest group.
She found it a ''scary thing'' to walk in to a coupe and meet a line of police. ''But it had to be done,'' Ms Cashman Bailes said.
Despite the agreement released yesterday, it gave her little comfort. ''I'm nervous about anything being signed, because a lot of those people I do not trust one bit.''