Here is the image from 2007 that I will keep with me.
Image by Matthew Newton
Isn’t she beautiful? This is Alannah Beltran, the Weld Angel, who did a tripod sit at the entrance to a tourist attraction in the Weld in Tasmania – an area being logged by Forestry Tasmania. She was sued by the police for the trouble and expense of bringing her down, and since she escaped the $5,000 dollar fine and received a good behaviour bond, Forestry Tasmania is suing her now.
Earlier this year, SO and I spent a long weekend in the Huon region of tasmania. We stayed in an eco-lodge run by a couple of wonderful men who have bought up a whole mountain to keep in perpetuity as cool temperate rainforest. Travelling west to do some kayaking, we passed the turnoff to the Tahune airwalk and debated going there, then decided we hadn’t enough time to do it all. We just missed seeing the Weld Angel on her lofty tripod.
I know there are many activists working in many places in the world, and I don’t intend to take anything away from them. I single out the people protecting Australia’s old growth forests because they are so frequently and so thoroughly reviled. They are constantly accused of “emotional” wrongheadedness by people who use logging trucks to blockade Houses of Parliament. They are abused, sworn at and sometimes physically attacked on the ground. At times, their lives are on the line; their livelihoods certainly are. Their personal hygiene, appearance and values are distorted out of shape and mocked by ignorant commenters in the media. People find it acceptable to make obscene jokes or bumper stickers about killing them. They’re now at the risk of SLAPP suits – lawsuits initiated by rich and powerful corporations to shut activists up.
Because they do this, we and our children and grandchildren may still be able to see the cool temperate rainforests in the years to come.
I’d like to see them take a bow. I would like to give them a pat on the back and say “thank you” for spending weeks, months, years in cold, wet and windy conditions (and, in summer, living under the threat of fire.) Alannah Beltran, Holly Creenaune, Jill Redwood and all the forest activists whose names I don’t know: Thank you.