FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Taking a Stand

by PATRICK O'KEEFE

Miranda Gibson is a 31 year old teacher, who has spent the past year engaged in a remarkably courageous act. Miranda has been living on a platform which sits 60 meters above the floor of an ancient Tasmanian forest. The tree that she has called home since December 14, 2011, stands at 70 meters in height. If Miranda had not acted, this tree may have been cut down long ago – along with the surrounding forest. Miranda explains the drive behind her remarkable act, simply stating that “I wanted to do something that would show the world how significant these forests are.”

Tasmania has been the center of a bitter feud, which dates back to the early 1970s, when woodchipping of forests first commenced in the smallest Australian state. The debate has polarized the community, with peace rarely, if ever, achieved between those who support the timber industry and those who want to see Tasmania’s ancient forests protected.

‘The Observer Tree’, as Miranda has named her action, has now been in operation for one year. Miranda has maintained a blog, through which she has documented her experience, and developed connections with thousands of people across the world.

“Every day there are comments on my website, people discovering these forests for the first time, or reconnecting with them through my blog,” says Miranda.

Given the bitter cold of a harsh Tasmanian winter, many would have excused Miranda for climbing down when things got tough. However, Miranda is a fiercely determined woman. “The moment I saw the contrast between a lifeless clear fell and an old growth forest – I knew that something needed to be done to protect these unique ecosystems.”

Former leader of the Australian Greens, Dr Bob Brown, describes Miranda as an “environmental hero.” As Dr Brown explains, Miranda approached him with the idea of The Observer Tree, for which he was “Very Supportive.”

“Miranda is an intelligent, well centered, strong minded young woman – who is committed to saving those forests,” said Dr Brown.

As Miranda keeps watch from her platform in the forest canopy, representatives from the timber industry and environment groups have been locked in negotiations about the future of these forests. At the end of two years of negotiations, which often teetered on the brink of collapse, the parties finally came to an agreement.

The agreement, which is currently waiting approval from Tasmania’s Legislative Council, will see the immediate protection of 395,199 hectares of forest, with a further 108,813 hectares to be protected by 2015. A further 20,183 hectares have been earmarked as a “once-off log, restore and reserve area,” while 1,228 hectares are classified as a “log-of-last-resort” zone. According to the agreement, the cap on saw logs to be taken from native forest is down to 137,000 cubic meters annually, representing a drop from 348,000 cubic meters. The agreement promises to ensure the protection of iconic forests, such as the Styx Valley, Upper Florentine and Weld Valley.

The parties emerged from the talks, speaking triumphantly about what had been achieved. And with good reason. An agreement such as this was considered an impossibility, with the parties so opposed and unwilling to give ground.

Miranda could be forgiven for thinking that her work had been done, once the agreement was announced. Miranda is not so convinced, citing numerous concerns that she has with the agreement. “Firstly, the lack of clear time frames for protection could see logging continue in those areas earmarked for reserves. In addition, there are clauses that could prevent those reserves from every being secured.” Miranda is critical of the renewed commitment to woodchipping, apparent within the agreement; which Miranda argues “is not a positive step forward for Tasmania environmentally, socially or economically.”

Lamenting the decline in direct action as a method adopted by environmental activists globally, Dr Brown refers to the importance of conducting environmental action within the natural setting. “The strength of campaigning is being in a forest, on a sea shore, out at sea with the whales, up on the Murray Darling. The direct relationship with nature has always been a key in galvanising support,” says Dr Brown.

It is the relationship with nature that motivates Miranda to continue. “I am inspired to keep going every single day that I am up here. I look out across a spectacular valley, across the upper canopy of the forest. There are constant reminders for me about why I am doing this and why I must continue – whether it’s a wedge-tailed eagle soaring in the skies above, the beauty of snow falling on the tree tops or sound of a masked owl calling through the moonlit trees. Being in this tree every day for almost a year has strengthened my determination to continue, because I witness first hand the significant values of this incredible forested landscape.”

It is apparent that Miranda is not going anywhere in a hurry. “Until there is a guarantee that these forests will be protected, I am committed to staying in this tree.”

Patrick O’Keefe is a writer living in Australia.

February 09, 2016
Andrew Levine
Hillary Says the Darndest Things
Paul Street
Kill King Capital
Ben Burgis
Lesser Evil Voting and Hillary Clinton’s War on the Poor
Paul Craig Roberts
Are the Payroll Jobs Reports Merely Propaganda Statements?
Fran Quigley
How Corporations Killed Medicine
Ted Rall
How Bernie Can Pay for His Agenda: Slash the Military
Kristin Kolb
The Greatest Bear Rainforest Agreement? A Love Affair, Deferred
Joseph Natoli
Politics and Techno-Consciousness
Hrishikesh Joshi
Selective Attention to Diversity: the Case of Cruz and Rubio
Stavros Mavroudeas
Why Syriza is Sinking in Greece
David Macaray
Attention Peyton Manning: Leave Football and Concentrate on Pizza
Arvin Paranjpe
Opening Your Heart
Kathleen Wallace
Boys, Hell, and the Politics of Vagina Voting
Brian Foley
Interview With a Bernie Broad: We Need to Start Focusing on Positions and Stop Relying on Sexism
February 08, 2016
Paul Craig Roberts – Michael Hudson
Privatization: the Atlanticist Tactic to Attack Russia
Mumia Abu-Jamal
Water War Against the Poor: Flint and the Crimes of Capital
John V. Walsh
Did Hillary’s Machine Rig Iowa? The Highly Improbable Iowa Coin Tosses
Vincent Emanuele
The Curse and Failure of Identity Politics
Eliza A. Webb
Hillary Clinton’s Populist Charade
Uri Avnery
Optimism of the Will
Roy Eidelson Trudy Bond, Stephen Soldz, Steven Reisner, Jean Maria Arrigo, Brad Olson, and Bryant Welch
Preserve Do-No-Harm for Military Psychologists: Coalition Responds to Department of Defense Letter to the APA
Patrick Cockburn
Oil Prices and ISIS Ruin Kurdish Dreams of Riches
Binoy Kampmark
Julian Assange, the UN and Meanings of Arbitrary Detention
Shamus Cooke
The Labor Movement’s Pearl Harbor Moment
W. T. Whitney
Cuba, War and Ana Belen Montes
Jim Goodman
Congress Must Kill the Trans Pacific Partnership
Peter White
Meeting John Ross
Colin Todhunter
Organic Agriculture, Capitalism and the Parallel World of the Pro-GMO Evangelist
Ralph Nader
They’re Just Not Answering!
Cesar Chelala
Beware of the Harm on Eyes Digital Devices Can Cause
Weekend Edition
February 5-7, 2016
Jeffrey St. Clair
When Chivalry Fails: St. Bernard and the Machine
Leonard Peltier
My 40 Years in Prison
John Pilger
Freeing Julian Assange: the Final Chapter
Garry Leech
Terrifying Ted and His Ultra-Conservative Vision for America
Andrew Levine
Smash Clintonism: Why Democrats, Not Republicans, are the Problem
William Blum
Is Bernie Sanders a “Socialist”?
Daniel Raventós - Julie Wark
We Can’t Afford These Billionaires
Enrique C. Ochoa
Super Bowl 50: American Inequality on Display
Jonathan Cook
The Liberal Hounding of Julian Assange: From Alex Gibney to The Guardian
George Wuerthner
How the Bundy Gang Won
Mike Whitney
Peace Talks “Paused” After Putin’s Triumph in Aleppo 
Ted Rall
Hillary Clinton: the Good, the Bad and the Ugly
Gary Leupp
Is a “Socialist” Really Unelectable? The Potential Significance of the Sanders Campaign
Vijay Prashad
The Fault Line of Race in America
Eoin Higgins
Please Clap: the Jeb Bush Campaign Pre-Mortem
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail