World Heritage rally a great success
What an amazing turn out at the rally for World Heritage! Almost 2000 people came out to the forests of the Florentine, to show their support keeping these forests as World Heritage. It was an inspiring day and sent a strong message to the World Heritage Committee that the Tasmanian community are determined to keep our forests protected. Check out the video from the day:
Being back out in the Upper Florentine Valley was full of mixed emotions. The incredible feeling of standing amongst ancient trees, knowing that they still stand only because we fought to defend them, knowing that right now they are internationally recognised and protected as World Heritage. Yet, the frustration at having to be here again, fighting once more, less than a year after the protection of these forests, to try to keep that World Heritage protection. The Australian Government applying to the World Heritage Committee to have 74,000 hectares of the newly listed forests removed from the listing and opened up once more for logging. It was with a deep sadness that I stood there amongst those trees knowing that after such a long battle to have them protected, that they may be just months away from potentially being under threat of logging once more. But I felt something incredible standing out there too, because I was standing there with almost 2000 others, all committed to defending those forests. And I felt a spark within me, an inspiration, a knowledge of what is possible. The power that we have when we stand together. As I walked up the Gordon River Road, people bustling about everywhere, it reminded me of a feeling I’ve had right there on that road before. It reminded me of all the times that people have come out to support the blockade and stood together to make sure those trees stay standing. And I wish we didn’t have to do it again, but I know that if we have to, we can. Yes, we stopped them logging the Upper Florentine and we can do it again.
I felt privileged to stand up before those 2000 people to share my thoughts. Before getting up to speak, I was feeling nervous – as I always do before having to talk! I went into the forest, to sit with the stump of a tree, that was once a mighty giant, known as Lungs of the Land. It was an ancient eucalypt that used to house a tree sit nestled high in its branches, and stood directly in the way of Forestry Tasmania’s planned road. I spent a lot of time up in that tree sit. And I was planning to start my speech with a story about it. I sat with that tree stump and all those memories came flooding back to me. The many nights climbing up ropes into the darkness, the stars twinkling above, the dark silhouettes of sassafras leaves swaying gently in the breeze… climbing up and up and up… into the upper canopy, a whole different world to the forest below. And those memories of sitting in that tree sit and watching as the forest around me was smashed, as the road was pushed around the tree sits. Watching 400 year old trees fall to the sound of chainsaws, my tree shaking as they hit the ground. Sitting there, with that stump, letting those memories wash over me, I felt a certain strength within me. Just beyond me, on the road, I could hear the sound of 2000 people gathering to defend this forest. And below me, the stump of a tree that will always remind me of how hard we fought for this place. It will always remind me of how much we will continue to fight, how we will never give up on these forests. When I stepped out of the forest and up onto the stage, and looked out across the crowd, that feeling only amplified.
Thank you to everyone who came along to the rally, and to all of those who could not make it but were there with us in spirit. Together we will ensure these forests remain standing. And this is just the beginning. Please watch and share the video, tell your friends about this important fight to protect our World Heritage forests. And watch this space for more opportunities to get involved.