Miranda’s Daily Blog: Day 19

What a way to see the New Year in! I woke this morning to honey eaters hoping about in the branches above me, the sound of fan-tailed cuckoo’s reverberating through the forest, a pair of swallow-tail butterflies flittering in the morning sunlight. And I thought: this has got to be a good year!

Last night was a time of contemplation, thinking over what this past year has been like and my hopes for the new one. Its funny how at first I thought …hmmm, not much happened this year. But when I started thinking about it and remember everything that’s gone on, I thought – wow, what a big year it’s been!

This time last year, I saw the New Year in at Falls Festival. It was a nice respite from the process of scouting logging coupes. Since attending a meeting with Forestry Tasmania in December 2010 Still Wild Still Threatened were comprehensively monitoring all the logging operations in our district, the Derwent. It had been a mixed bag of emotions, visiting beautiful forests and devastating clear-fells. But it felt positive, because FT was apparently going to be working on a rescheduling process to place 572,000 hectares under a moratorium by March 15th 2011.

So there I was at Falls, amongst thousands of people, when only days before I’d been in the middle of a forest while it snowed (yes, snow in December, pretty exciting!). And soon after Falls, I was off for more scouting. Now, I guess, it feels like a waste of time. Forestry rescheduled none of those coupes, no moratorium was put in place and the majority of intact forest areas we visited have been felled since then.

It was March 15th, when the moratorium deadline was not met, that I could no longer deny the reality – the “forest peace talks” just weren’t bringing peace for the forests, as logging continued. And so I admitted that sad fact not only to myself, but to everyone watching the nightly news… as I stood there at one of my first press conferences, a fledgling media spokesperson, shy and trembling with nerves. I don’t know how I found myself in such a position. Being so shy I never would have imagined having the confidence to stand in front of so many cameras and answer tricking questions about whether we felt betrayed and so forth. I wondered if the people watching at home could tell how much I was shaking! I have enjoyed the journey of slowly developing confidence through being media spokesperson for Still Wild Still Threatened this year. I think that the thing that has helped me along the way is my passion for the forest and my true conviction in what I am saying. I just hope that this comes through despite the nerves! Even to sit here and share so much of myself through these blogs is something I wouldn’t have imagined doing a while ago. So, I guess that is something that 2011 has brought me and I’m grateful for the opportunity to share my passion and knowledge about the forest with other people. And to be dragged, somewhat reluctantly at first, out of my shyness! Anything for the forests, I guess!

One of my favorite moments of 2011 was when we brought forest blockading to the place where it really matters, to the place where decisions are being made every day about which forest will be lost and when…. the offices of Forestry Tasmania, Hobart. There was something satisfying about the managing director and other top officials turning up to work and being unable to enter the office. Why? Because every day they are in that building handing down death sentences to places they have never seen, animals they have never meet, trees they have never climbed, and rivers they have never swum in. They are drawing lines on maps and writing out statistics – and to them it might be just another line, just another number. Meanwhile, we are out in the forest watching the destruction every day, trying our best to halt it or at least slow it down. And the heads of Forestry don’t have to deal with us. They can sit in their office, far removed from the front lines. So that is why I think the action we did that day is significant. It is within the walls of that building that devastation is born and it is important that not only we remember it, but we remind them of that sometimes too!

My other favorite moment of 2011: climbing the Sydney Opera House to drop a banner calling on Harvey Norman to stop sourcing wood from our precious native forests, as part of a global day of action. I haven’t really mentioned Harvey Norman in my blog so far. But I will be getting to them a little latter. Native forest from Tasmania and other areas across Australia is felled, shipped to China to be made into furniture, shipped back and sold in Harvey Norman stores. And often the customers don’t even know that the bed or table they buy was once a 400 year old giant eucalypt in a pristine forest ecosystem, much like the one I’m sitting in right now. I’ll talk more about Harvey at a later date. But for now, I’ll say the banner drop on the opera house was amazing because it generate loads of media and really helped to bring the message to Harvey Norman that forest destruction will not be tolerated.

2011 brought some hard times too. Both as a forest campaigner and personally. I have already spoken in my blog about the difficulty of being involved in the forest peace process, feeling hopeful and then having those hopes destroyed when the government failed to act on their promise. 2011 was a time of loss, losing a lot of precious forest that I came to know through the surveying. I also had some personal losses in my life. I guess this blog is meant to be about the forest, but it is hard not to make it personal, because for me the forest campaign is interconnected with my whole life. So I will tell you this. For all the tricky times that came along with 2011, I have learnt a lot. I have learnt the value of family and friends most of all. I have come to realize how precious the people in my life are, and never take them for granted. I have learnt the importance of telling the people how much you care about them. And I have also learnt that no matter how much I care about the forest, it is just as important to spend time with your friends, family and people you love, while you can. This has been a hard lesson to learn. Taking a bit of time away from forest campaigning to be with friends and family gave me a chance to be close to those I love. And now, strangely, this project has also brought me closer to people. It has brought me closer to my family, because through reading my blogs they have come to know me better. It has especially brought me closer to my sister who has become my number one fan, promoting the blog and calling me each day to talk about my life up in the tree. I’m grateful for this chance to be closer to people, despite being separated not only by distance, but by height too!

And so, today is the first day of a new year. I have many hopes for 2012 … I guess I don’t really have to tell you what they are, because I say it every day! But I really hope this forest will be protected.

I’m not the only one with high hopes for 2012. Julia Gillard in her new year’s speech said 2012 is “a time for new hope and new beginnings” and that “better days lie ahead.” Let’s hope she means what she says and that her new year’s resolution this year might be to honor those promises she made to the people of Australia in 2011.

I haven’t lost hope, despite the broken promises of Julia. I do believe forest protection could be possible in Tasmania this year. But I don’t think it is going to happen easily, at least not without a lot of pressure from the people of Australia. And so I guess that is where my sense of hope lies now -not in Julia, but in you. Because I hope everyone who reads these blogs will feel inspired to take action. Whether its writing a letter to Julia, visiting your local Harvey Norman store to ask them to stop selling native forest products, sitting in a tree, displaying a banner, organizing a community forum… I guess the list is endless and I’m sure you all have your own ideas of how to help save these forests. I hope that together we can make 2012 go down in history as the year that Australia’s native forests received the protection they so desperately need.

Yep, I think it’s going to be a good year indeed!

Even Julia says it’s going to be, I don’t think she would lie? Would She??

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Posted on January 1, 2012, in Daily Blog, Videos. Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. I think we are going to have to move from being a consumer society. From being a growth economy. To become sustainable. To conserve what we have. To stabilise population. If we don’t do these things, can we hope to hold back logging? Just some thoughts I had when thinking about our 2012 coming.

  2. Thank you for your reflections of the past year and your dedication to the Forests Miranda. Your inspire renewed hope that together we can work to bring peace to the forests. You are much loved xx

  3. Australian Minister for Environment et al. Tony Burke MP on 7th August 2011:

    “Significantly, the agreement guarantees protection for Tasmania’s most iconic ancient forests. Tasmania will immediately place 430,000 hectares of native forest into informal reserve, subject to verification, which the governments will protect under a Conservation Agreement.” [Source: http://www.environment.gov.au/minister/burke/2011/mr20110807.html%5D

  4. Miranda, if you look at the Reserves Map attached on Tony Burke’s site above, and overlay it with The ObserverTree on Google Earth, you, your tree and the forest your are standing up for all stand inside the ‘blue’ federal 430,000 ha ‘Immediate Protected Area’. This area is an Australian federal legal agreement signed by the Australian Prime Minister on 7th August 2011.

    Forestry Tasmania needs to be under no illusion that the forest ecology around The ObserverTree is nationally guaranteed environmental protection under the Tasmanian Forests Intergovernmental Agreement of 2011.

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