Category Archives: Photos

Miranda’s Daily Blog: Day 329

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Hope you enjoy this slideshow of photos I took today. An absolutely beautiful day complete with rainbows over the forest!

Miranda’s Daily Blog: Day 320

In these past few day of suffocating uncertainty about the future of the forest, there is one thing that keeps me going. Every single day I witness the beauty of the tree tops and it constantly reminds me of why I will stay up here until the job is done – until the forests are protected.

So I thought I would share some of it with you. And I hope it inspires you too.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

If you haven’t already – check out the observer tree FaceBook page.  Make sure you “LIKE” it to stay in the loop and see more pictures like these as soon as I take them! And keep checking the blog, because I have been putting together a little film about when my Mum came to stay with me in the Observer Tree! It’ll be up online in the next few days.

Please take action in defense of Tasmania’s forests: click HERE.

Miranda’s Daily Blog: Day 284

Two days ago the wintry clouds that cover the sky above the Observer Tree cracked open to reveal the brilliant sunlight of spring. I threw my arbing rope over a branch above, clipped the rope to my harness and opened the trapdoor below my feet. The leaves of the tree were shimmering like they were made of phosphorescence. I took the rope in my hands and slid down about two meters untill my feet touched a large branch just below the platform. Despite the warm weather, the sun hadn’t managed to completely dry out the ropes and water dripped down my arm and trickled inside my sleeve. Once on the branch, I crept along it until I was in the golden spot … the patch of branch that was radiating in full sunlight. Ahhh… time for basking in the sun. That feeling of warmth being absorbed through my skin… how I had forgotten how good it could be! And then I noticed, that I wasn’t the only one with that idea. There on the sunny branch beside me was Lizzie, the Tasmanian Skink that had spent last summer exploring my tree house. She had crawled out from a small hollow in the tree’s branch and was soaking in the spring-time sun. It was the first time I had seen her for many months. I smiled as the two of us lay stretched out across the branch. It felt like Summer was on its way!

Today I opened my eyes and above me the tarp was bulging under the weight of snow. That’s right.. snow! I looked out across the forest and watched the snow flakes gently making their way down through the trees. I guess summer isn’t so close after all. Read the rest of this entry

Miranda’s Daily Blog: Day 278

On Sunday I had a visit from a group of journalists from South Korea. They are in Tasmania covering a story on the forests. After meeting up with Bob Brown in the morning, they came out to The Observer Tree. Braving the 60 meter height, they came up the tree to talk to me about why I am here and about this forest. This is such a great opportunity to spread the message about these forests across the world. Hopefully they will take this story back to South Korea and many more people can find out about what I am doing.

And for the last few days I have  been having a great time with my sister. This is her first chance to visit me in the Observer Tree and it has been so great to see her again after all this time.  She has been up in the tree since Sunday. Although we talk on the phone often, it is of course never the same as getting to spend time together. Having her in the tree has been so uplifting, as we have had many good laughs together and a lot of catching up to do. As you can imagine, time away from my family is one of the challenges of life in the tree sit. So it is so special to be able to have this visit from my sister, Rhiannon.

When we were kids our Dad built us a tree house in the backyard. We spent many hours playing there together and climbing in all the other trees around the house too. Who would have know that all these years later we’d be laughing again in another tree house. This time about 58 meters higher than our childhood version! Read the rest of this entry

Miranda’s Daily Blog: Day 258

I awoke in the middle of the night to something soft and cold brushing against my face. I squinted into the darkness, the slight tint of moonlight barely enough to see by.  small light flakes of snow were softly drifting onto my face and settling on my sleeping bag.  In my sleepy haze it took awhile to work out what was going on. As I looked around I saw that the wind was blowing the gap in the tarp open and with the wind came the snow.  Unlike all those crazily rainy nights when water somehow always seemed to escape inside, this time I didn’t mind. In fact the feeling of flakes of snow on my nose made me smile. And so I  just snuggled down into my sleeping bag and drifted back to sleep.

In the morning I opened my eyes and looked out across the platform. A perfectly smooth, crisp white layer of snow-covered everything. There is something remarkable about this type of snow. The way it settles so perfectly clean and fresh. I didn’t even want to walk out there and disturb it with footprints!  I could see small loops of rope poking out of the snow. It reminded me of a sea-serpent.  And in the center of the platform, the sharp black lines of the metal from my little step machine stuck out from white snow in stark contrast.

 

I spent a long time peering over the edge of the platform looking down towards the ground. I  love watching the snow fall this way. Watching it settle on the branches. Watching the tops of the understorey trees get heavy and start to droop. Watching the flakes of snow swirl this way and that with the wind. And  when the gusts come, they way the snow is pelted hard against the tree. I love watching it gather on the trunks of the big trees around me. Piling up in amoung the rough strips of bark, making a polka-dot pattern down the tree. Read the rest of this entry

Miranda’s Daily Blog: Day 239 & 240

It’s snowing! What a beautiful experience to witness this forest in the snow. Although it has snowed quiet a few times throughout winter now, this week was the first time that the snow settled properly on the tree tops. It was like a winter wonderland up here! I hope you enjoy my photos. (And stay tuned for a little video blog coming soon too).

Help protect this amazing forest from industrial scale logging… click HERE.

Miranda’s Daily Blog: Day 221

 

 

   

(Images: Forest monitoring and documentation, Still Wild Still Threatened 2010).

I have come to love and hate maps.

Over the past five or so years they have become a constant companion. Helping me to navigate my way through amazing tracts of forest, to find spectacular caves hidden deep in the Upper Florentine Valley, or giant trees in the Styx. They have guided me through the forest on dark nights, by head torch, to take action. They have helped me find the perfect spot to place wildlife cameras and helped me find my way back again to watch the footage of Tasmanian devils and spotted- tailed quolls. But maps have led me to places I wish I didn’t have to go. They have taken me on dark and raining nights through mazes of logging roads, to coupe after coupe of clearfelled forests.

Each year Forestry Tasmania puts out a new wood production plan. It is one of my least favourite times of the year. it means trolling through list after list of coupe names. It is like a lottery draw, where if your number comes up you lose everything. As soon as it is released I am going through it with anticipation to see which of my favourite places will be taken this year. And then the sad task of drawing the lines of each coupe boundary onto my own maps. Each year our  worn out 1:25,000 topographical maps are filling up more and more with the scrawl of coupe boundaries. In increasing numbers, the shaded-in ones; the ones that have already been lost, begin to take over the pages.

These past few weeks, as you will have noticed, I have been doing a daily post, with the help of crew from HVEC, Code Green, The Last Stand and Markets for Change, profiling a different forest everyday. Sadly many of these areas are clearfells. These are forests that should have been protected by a moratorium announced well over a year ago now. And then by the conservation agreement announced last August.

Tonight I feel a sense of loss for places I have known and loved and lost. And for other places that I will never have the chance to know. Tonight the maps tell a story, and it is one of devastation. The other day I wrote a coupe profile about what had been one of my favourite patches of forest. It’s called the Counsel forest. And it has the most spectacularly giant trees. I remember the first time I ever went there. I was amazed. There are some forests that have had such a high profile, like the Florentine and the Styx. And these are incredible forests that deserve to be known! But then it is interesting to stumble across areas that not many people know about or hear about. And to discover a whole new, equally amazing world in there!

What amazed me was the diversity of flora. When I first visited this area many years ago now, it was early on in my career as a “plant nerd.” I had been enthusiastically learning every single plant I could find in the Upper Florentine Valley. And I thought I had a good handle on this plant ID thing. Then I walked through the Counsel, and discovered I had no idea! There were so many new species for me to discover and learn, that were not commonly seen in the neighbouring valleys. The other thing I loved about the counsel when I first went there is its rocky disposition. The rocky outcrops, that look out over the valleys below. And of course, the tall trees!

I have found some amazing trees in that forest. One of my favourite trees in the Counsel was discovered in logging coupe CO002B. Every year SWST conduct a report for the IUCN and World Heritage Committee, to asses the level of damage done to the forests bordering the world heritage area. One of those areas was CO002B, the boundary of which runs right up to the world heritage border. On the day we went to document it for the 2009 report, we arrived to the devastating scene of logging machinery and fallen trees. I went for a walk and just up the hill, on the very edge of where the logging had gotten to that day, was a giant tree. It had a huge girth of 17.5 meters. It was a beautiful tree and I thought maybe we would have a chance to save it. Given that the Forest Practices Code says that trees above 14 meters girth would receive a buffer zone and remain standing until they were assessed for status as “giants.”

The following day we were standing amongst a very different “forest”, a garden of planted tree ferns in the atrium of Forestry Tasmania’s building. Handing in our paperwork to report the discovery of this amazingly wide tree. The next time I returned to the coupe, our tree was still standing but they had logged right up to it. Something I thought they were not supposed to do. We found out it had failed to be classified as a giant. The reason for this is that while tall trees are given giant status, if they are above 85 meters in height. But there is no protection for trees that are exceptionally wide. They have to meet a criteria based on volume. And so those old trees that have lost their crowns as they have aged, often fail to be classified. And unfortunately this one fell short. The next time I returned all that remained was a 17.5m round stump.

After the felling on CO002B came the felling of CO010B. This was particularly distressing, because it is right in the middle of a significant tract of intact old growth. This tract is bordered by the TWWHA on one side and an informal reserve running along a river on the other side. There were not even any roads encroaching into the forest. That was until CO010B. A road was pushed right through the informal reserve. And then logging started. This was at a time when Forestry Tasmania were meant to be rescheduling coupes in line with the Statement of Principles and the declared moratorium. This was the moment for me when warning bells started ringing about the whole process. Why was logging allowed to go ahead in a tract of intact old growth forest, bordering the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area, when it was meant to be on its way to be included into the reserve? It just didn’t make sense. There was already an argument out there being used to justify areas not being included in protected areas, based on the fact that they were fragmented by logging. Yet, here they were going ahead and fragmenting another area of forest, right before it was to be reserved. Now there is a scar in the landscape of the counsel forest. A sad reminder of the failure of the moratorium to do what it should have done, and that is to ensure that the areas on the table for new reserves did not suffer any further degradation or fragmentation.

CO0010B and C0002B should be restored and included into the TWWHA along with the surrounding forest, to ensure connectivity. The trees that once stood here have been forever lost. But it is not too late to protect the rest of the Counsel. And other high conservation value forests in Tasmania.

The maps hold a story, and it is part of my story. Because the scars that mark the maps have left their mark on me too. Places in the Styx, Tyenna, Wedge, Florentine, Plenty, Wentworth Hills. The places that I have visited, monitored, documented, photographed, set up fauna cameras in, climbed trees in, taken action in, written reports about, talked to the media about, and eventually bore witness to them being felled and burnt.

As much as the maps hold a story of devastation, they hold a story of hope. Because there are places on the map with little scribbley outlines of coupes that are not yet shaded in. These are the places we have not lost yet. Some of these are the coupes that we have been able to defend from logging. The Upper Florentine Valley is full of these. Proposed logging coupes, numbering 15, scatter across the 2000 hectare valley. The majority of these remain untouched, because the community has prevented logging in the valley since the logging schedule for the area was announced about five and a half years ago. The Upper Florentine could survive forever, if it is given the legislative protection that is needed, as part of 563,000 hectares of forest that is on the table for proposed reserves.

The map that outlines those 563,000 hectares tells a story of core habitat areas for Tasmanian devils, spotted tailed quolls, masked owls. A story of wedgetailed eagle nesting sites and waterways that are home to hydrobiid snails and Galaxias johnstoni. Of sink holes, caves and karsts systems, of important Indigenous heritage sites. Of remnant rainforest patches, glacial lakes, giant eucalypts. Of a landscape that is unique to Tasmania. That map tells a story of a long battle to protect Tasmania’s forests, and the possibility that some of our most significant areas may finally be able to be safely guarded by the protection they should have had a long time ago. But this is a story that has not finished, an open ended story, and we are waiting to hear what the next page will hold.

And as I sit here on the eve of the day that the “deal” is due to be announced, I am looking at that map and holding onto the hope that sense and science prevail, that our unique fauna and flora is protected, Indigenous heritage sites are not lost any further and that we become a beacon of sustainable evolution instead of ecological devastation. And that those scars of clearfells in high conservation value forests will be the last of their kind.

The hope that tomorrow I will be erasing the lines of logging coupes from my maps, not adding them.

A forest a day! July 6: BB021E

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

A proposed new road and logging coupe in the Barnback Creek region has the potential to destroy the values of a previously unroaded forest area in the Lower Weld Valley. However, there is still time for these forests to be protected as logging has not commenced yet.

Barnback Creek, located in southern Tasmania, flows through wet fern-filled forests into the Weld River. A new 2.5km road and logging area of 70 hectares is planned for the northern flank of the creek, which would destroy significant stands of Eucalyptus regnans and Eucalyptus obliqua.

Forestry Tasmania plans to cable log the area. The Federal Government’s inadequate conservation agreement left this area open for logging. This forest is a spectacular mixed aged eucalypt forest.

In 2006 a new logging road was built named Eric Pettets Road. After 16 months of direct action by peaceful protesters who blockaded the proposed road extension with a spectacular Weld Ark, the road was pushed further into the previously unroaded area. More than 50 people were arrested in the ensuing protests. Two areas of forest have been logged along this road.

The new proposed road would push in to previously unlogged forest off Eric Pettets Rd.

Barnback Creek is a 6km tributary of the Weld River. During the community blockade and since, thousands of people visited the area, explored the forests, studied them and defended the forests from logging on the frontline.

This significant roading operation was due to commence in January 2012, and then logging was to commence this winter. These forests will go to feed the mill of Malaysian logging giant Ta Ann.[i]

The delay for this new road and logging operation means that these forests still have a chance to be protected.

BB021E is in a sea of Dixonia antarctica or manferns. This species is very slow growing, between 1 – 10 cms a year depending on the conditions. It can live up to 1000 years and the trunk of tree ferns provide habitat to the twelve species of Tasmanian epiphytic ferns.[ii] Dicksonia antarctica is a very important component of the Tasmanian bush. It is extremely hardy and tolerates temperatures from -10 degrees celcius to 40 degrees celsius, prefers fertile organic soils and moist, humid conditions with some shade. The tender and fleshy croziers (the young, uncurling fronds) can be a food source for native animals such as possums and parrots.[iii]

Please CLICK HERE and take a moment to help defend Tasmania’s forests.

For more information about the ‘A forest a day’ project, which is a collaboration between Huon Valley Environment Centre, Still Wild Still Threatened, The Last Stand, Markets for Change and Code Green, please click HERE.

For more information on Barnback forests: click HERE.

References:
[i] Hoffman, O. 23 December 2011 Rescheduling Work – January and February 2012, As requested by The Australian Government 21 November 2012 [view online]
[ii] Gibson, M, & Leahy, L., (2010) Flora and Fauna Guide to the Upper Florentine Valley.
[iii] Richard Barnes, Department of Primary Industries and Water [view online]

A forest a day! July 5: SX020G

SX20G is located in Tasmania’s iconic Styx Valley. These forests are known best for their signficant stands of tall trees. In fact, the Styx Valley is home almost 30% of Tasmania’s recorded “giant” trees (Hitchcock 2012: 98). Most notable are the Eucalpytus regnans, the tallest flowering plant in the world. Hitchcock notes that the Styx not only features giant trees, but also provides the right ecological conditions for potential future giants (Hitchcock 2012: 98).

One of the key reasons why this area should be protected is to maintain regional connectivity. As it is a major node in the corridor of globally significant eucalypt forests stretching north-south (Hitchcock 2012: 96).

This forest features tall eucalypts with a diverse understorey. Extensive stands of myrtle and celery-top pine are present.

This coupe is also within an area mapped as potential grey goshawk habitat. This species is listed as Endangered (Tasmanian Threatened Species Protection Act 1995), due to the continuing decline of mature individuals (FPA 2008: 10). According to the Forest Practices Authority a high proportion of the core habitat for this species is in areas that are not protected (FPA 2008:10). Goshawks generally prefer forest with a closed canopy and low stem density, particularly during nesting season. While further study needs to be done on their hunting patterns, it is believed that interconnecting forest areas of 20-30km squared are required to sustain a population and that mature wet forests are their prefered hunting areas. The Forest Practises Authority also states that “one of the key threats for the grey goshawks is widespread native vegetation clearance” (FPA 2008: 10).

While SX20G is within the 430,000 hectares due to be in a conservation agreement in August last year, the coupe remains open for logging. This coupe is being logged to produced saw logs and veneer (Hoffman 2011: 8). Logging has not begun in this coupe, and there is still time to ensure that this forest is protected.

Please CLICK HERE and take a moment to help defend Tasmania’s forests.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

References:

FPA (2008) FPA Planning Guide 2008/1

Hitchcock (2012) IVG Report 5A: Verification of the Heritage Value of ENGO proposed Reserves [View online]

Hoffman, O. 23 December 2011 Rescheduling Work – January and February 2012, As requested by The Australian Government 21 November 2012 [View online]

A forest a day! July 4: TN046A

This 27 hectare coupe is situated at the base of Mount Mueller, near the Styx and Tyenna Valleys. There is a magnificent walking track that takes visitors up the mountain to a glacial lake called Fossil Lake. This track is located right in the middle of the area scheduled for logging.

This forest contains examples of western peppermints and snow peppermint gums with a mature rainforest understorey. Sassafras, myrtle, celery top pine, horizontal and leatherwood are common throughout the area. There are also substantial areas of pure rainforest present on the site and significant stands of native laurel. Other areas within the coupe are populated with mature tea trees, pandanii and heath.
This coupe is within 700m of the current Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area. Hitchcock concludes that the Styx-Tyenna assessment area in which TN046A is located “would not only make a major contribution to the value and integrity of the TWWHA in respect of tall eucalypt forests but also facilitate maintenance of regional connectivity” (Hitchcock 2012: 100).
This forest is within an area identified as having potential karst systems, based on data from the Tasmanian Karst Atlas (DPIPWE 2010). Hitchcock noted this in his report, stating “there is significant mapped karst within the ENGO-proposed lands.” (Hitchcock 2012: 101)
Still Wild Still Threatened have surveyed the area for wildlife using remote sensor cameras. Threatened species including Tasmanian devils and spot tailed quolls have been recorded within the coupe. There are also significant areas of mapped grey goshawk habitat in the surrounding areas that occur within a kilometer of this site.
Logging has not yet begun in this coupe. However, with the extension of the current inadequate “conservation agreement” it remains excluded from the moratorium and as such, under imminent threat of destruction. TN046A is on Forestry Tasmania’s logging schedule for this year. Please help ensure that this world heritage value forest is protected from logging. CLICK HERE to take action now.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Check out this film featuring the Mount Mueller area, including TN046A and TN044B (where Observer Tree is located)

References:
DPIPWE (2010) Tasmanian Karst Altas (Version 3.1)

Hitchcock (2012) IVG Report 5A: Verification of the Heritage Value of ENGO proposed Reserves [View online]

For more information about the ‘A forest a day’ project, which is a collaboration between Huon Valley Environment Centre, Still Wild Still Threatened, The Last Stand, Markets for Change and Code Green, please click HERE.

%d bloggers like this: