Farmers in a number of Australian states have been busy with their chainsaws as they hold trees to ransom in a bizarre protest over land clearing laws.

In an effort to meet Kyoto targets, several Australian states have introduced laws which protect trees and make it harder for farmers to change the use of their land.

Farmers are now arguing that while such laws may benefit the environment, they are restrictive and do not benefit the land owners themselves, who receive no payment for the carbon stored in their trees.

The protest began on Sunday with hundreds of farmers each chopping down a single tree, with threats to double the number of trees they feel each day the laws remain in place.

By Monday farmers claimed to have already felled some 4,000 trees.

The protest is not backed by the Australian agricultural trade body, the National Farmers’ Federation, which says it cannot condone illegal activity.

Sam Bond

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