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  How Dare They Do This   Big Tree Representation  
  Tree Heritage in Europe   Forest Activism in North America & Australia  

Forest Activism in North America & Australia

The need to protect big trees and ancient forests is becoming ever more urgent. To meet the bloated demand for pulp, paper and wood products a globalized forest industry uses its full corporate might in plundering the world's dwindling forest resources and siphoning off some of its huge profits to bribe those to comply who could help stop the destruction (ranging from government bodies to forestry academics). In British Columbia (BC) Canada, the 1993 Clayoquot Sound protest against logging company MacMillan Bloedel was a turning point of worldwide significance in the environmental movement. Clayoquot Sound is a UN Biosphere since 2000 but that has not stopped Interfor (International Forest Products) from planning new assaults, hence the 2006 protest at the BC Legislature (right).


Protest against Interfor, Victoria, 2006
Wilderness Committee


BC forest policies protest, Victoria, 18 March 2008
Photo: Wilderness Committee


On 28 March 2008 over 1300 people attended BC's largest environmental protest in 15 years, since the 1993 Clayoquot Sound protest, at the BC Legislature in Victoria (left). They demanded that the endangered old growth forests and ancient trees of Vancouver Island and the Lower BC Mainland be protected and that raw log exports be banned. However, despite the many decades of environmental protests against the barbaric destruction of BC's last ancient forest remnants, the government continues to refuse to enact the necessary protective legislation. Instead government greenwash rhetoric has become more vocal along with that of its "partner in crime," the multinational forest industry, while endangered big trees that could still live for centuries are felled for pulp, paper and wood products.


The Western Canada Wilderness Committee was founded in BC in 1980 and is the largest membership based wilderness preservation organization in Canada. The Victoria branch has repeatedly held demonstrations at the BC Legislature demanding "Hands Off The Old Growth" (right). 75 percent of the productive old growth forests on Vancouver Island have been logged, most within the last 50 years, including 90 percent of the valley bottoms where the largest trees grow. It is shocking that no more than 8 percent of the original ancient forests on Vancouver Island and the Lower Mainland are protected in parks and no protection exists for the irreplaceable big trees. Instead the forest industry is targeting the high value ancient specimens with ages of up to 2,000 years or more.


"Hands Off The Old Growth," Victoria, 2008
Photo: Wilderness Committee


Measuring an endangered big tree, 2008
Photo: Friends of Clayoquot Sound


A new "war in the woods" arose in 2008 over old growth logging in the Clayoquot Sound Biosphere. Since the 1993 protests, the logging industry and BC government have plotted how to render ineffective the worldwide condemnation of rainforest destruction here, coming up with the ruse of "native logging." Thus the incremental treaty signed with the Tla o qui aht First Nation on 13 November 2008 set alarm bells ringing, especially as it is part of the wider chopping up of First Nations territories already set in motion.


Big Trees Trail, Meares Island Tribal Park
Clayoquot Sound, Vancouver Island


Beginning in the 1950s most of Clayoquot Sound was handed over as Tree Farm Licences (TFLs) to the big logging companies, MacMillan Bloedel and BC Forest Products. TFLs are leases of public land that permit companies to log old growth forests and convert them into tree farms. The disastrous result has been that whole watersheds were clearcut logged. Despite the UN Biosphere designation of Clayoquot Sound, there is still no legislated protection of its rare and endangered forests.

Today the big trees on Meares Island are a great tourist attraction (left). Some are two millenia in age, such as the "Hanging Garden Cedar," which is 18.3 m in circumference and over 2,000 years old. These big trees would have been destroyed forever were it not for forest activists at Clayoquot Sound, both native and non native, who fought a courageous battle to save them.


Clayoquot logging protest, Victoria, BC, 1985
Photo: Robert Soderland


The Meares Island big trees are standing due to a logging blockade against MacMillan Bloedel staged in 1984 by First Nations and environmentalists. On 21 April 1984 Meares Island was declared by the Tla o qui aht First Nation as protected as a Tribal Park: "Total preservation of Meares Island based on TITLE and survival of our Native way of life."

In support, a demonstration was held in 1985 at the BC Legislature in Victoria where protesters erected a 27 ft Nuu chah nulth welcome figure on the front steps of the colonial edifice (left). It was carved by Tla o qui aht artist Joe David and became an icon of both the forest protection movement and struggle for Aboriginal Title and Rights. Also in 1985 First Nations were granted an injunction to stop MacMillan Bloedel from logging the big trees on Meares Island.


During the 1970s rampant clearcutting in Clayoquot Sound more than tripled during the initial agreed upon TFL cut rate. This display of wanton destruction sparked the beginning of a decades long environmental campaign and the 1979 formation of Friends of Clayoquot Sound. In 1988 when an illegal logging road was discovered in Sulpher Passage, activists set up a blockade to protect the intact ancient rainforest in Megin Valley. Climber Paul Winstanly is seen in a hammock tied between two trees high above the newly blasted logging road (right). During the blockade the court granted an injuction to the logging company with the result that 35 people were arrested including the distinguished Ahousaht Hereditary Chief Earl Maquinna George.

The BC government announced a "Sustainable Development Task Force" for Clayoquot Sound in 1989 but clearcut logging continued. In 1993 it released a new land use plan catering to the logging companies, with over 70 percent of the big tree forests to be clearcut. The plan was rejected by the Clayoquot Sound communities and further blockades were initiated. A daring feat of resistance was by the Friends of Clayoquot activist Valerie Langer who positioned herself at the end of a pole laid across a logging bridge (below).

Valerie Langer, anti logging protest, 1993
Screenshot: "Sulpher Passage"


Logging blockade, Supher Passage, 1988
Photo: Mark Hobson

The complicity of the BC in a plan to clearcut Clayoquot Sound resulted in the largest peaceful civil disobedience in Canadian history with 12,000 citizens taking part in a logging road blockade during the summer of 1993. Over 900 protesters were arrested, including elderly people, while worldwide media coverage turned Clayoquot Sound into a popular icon for temperate rainforest conservation. A song composed by Bob Bossin to tribute the Clayoquot forest activists.


Mass arrest day, 9 August 1993
Clayoquot Sound, Vancouver Island, British Columbia

The campaign to save the old growth rainforest remnants of Clayoquot Sound has gone on for almost three decades. Scores of visitors to BC have taken part and witnessed the horrors of industrial clearcut logging firsthand. The harsh police operation to break the blockade (right) by forcible removals and arrests was shocking to those who believed that in Canada acts of police state repression were not possible. To provide an alternative to the government's "ecotourism" propaganda and educate Germans about the destruction of BC's forests, biologist Philipp Kuechler created the website "Naturschatz" (nature treasures).


One peaceful "sitdown" demonstration (left) on 9 August 1993 resulted in 352 arrests by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. See the documentary video: Save Clayoquot Sound. Included is a scene of Australian rock star Peter Garett (Midnight Oil) telling the crowd that BC forest practices are "brutal, primitive and barbaric: everyone, especially young people, can see that it's wrong, it's wrong and it's wrong" to destroy ancient forest biodiversity. Garett (appointed Australian Environment Minister in 2008) performed in a Clayoquot Sound clearcut: Beds Are Burning.

Clayoquot logging road blockade, August 1993
Photo: Aldo de Moor


Protest against logging, British Columbia Legislature, 1993
Photo: Aldo de Moor


One of the many Europeans at Clayoquot Sound in 1993 was Aldo de Moor from Tilburg in the Netherlands, who documented the occasion. One photo shows the arrested protesters walking to their mass trial at the BC Court in Victoria (left). "It has been a formative experience in my life, seeing a grassroots community emerge of people from all walks of life, professions, and political views, together effectively fighting an unjust decision despite all the differences and b opposition. The incredible 'sense of community' I experienced then has inspired me ever since and has made me go into the field of community informatics." Aldo de Moor put his photos of the summer of 1993 on the Internet as "an inspiration" and as "a tribute to the people who had the courage to be arrested because of a societal cause they believed in."


Dutch born nature photographer Adrian Dorst was appalled by the wholesale destruction of Clayoquot Sound (right), one of the most magnificent wilderness areas left on Earth. His stunning photos are featured in the classic 1988 nature preservation book "Clayoquot: On the Wild Side" which played a pivotal educational role in exposing the shocking extent of the environmental crimes being committed.

Measuring a big cedar, Clayoquot Sound, 1995
Photo: Adrian Dorst


MacMillan Bloedel clearcut, Clayoquot, 1988
Photo: Adrian Dorst

Targeted & Cancelled Contracts in the 1994
Market Campaign Against MacMillan Bloedel

German magazine Der Spiegel
American magazine Sierra
Scott Paper (UK Division)
New York Times, GTE and Pacific
DeTeMedien (120 member companies)

The 1994 market campaign by the Clayoquot Rainforest Coalition against MacMillan Bloedel resulted in a loss of business (above). As a result of this pressure, in 1995 the BC government accepted the recommendations of an international panel of scientists that included a moratorium on logging in pristine old growth watersheds. In fact, the clearcut logging of the ancient forests did not end as promised in 1995. Nor did the destruction end in 2000 with the designation of Clayoquot Sound as a UN Biosphere Reserve. Vast profits have been made by clearcut logging the ancient forests of the Northwest Coast, and government policy is to continue this destruction. Without legislation the transnational corporations will not stop until there is nothing left. The best efforts of forest activists over many decades have done little to slow the frightening rate of deforestation.


Take the example of California's ancient redwood forests, the southern extent of the Northwest Coast temperate rainforest. The Environmental Protection Center in Garberville reports: "Industrial logging corporations hold the titles for much of the private forestlands in our region, and present threats to ecosystem health and economic stability. Year of corporate logging has created a wasteland of clearcuts and roads beyond the visible 'beauty strips' retained near highways and towns."

Over two decades of protests against Pacific Lumber Company (PL or Palco) did nothing to stop its flagrant destruction of the Headwaters Forest in Humboldt County. Many blockades were held in the county capital of Eureka, such as the one in 2004 when activists carrying a protest banner "Cutting Tomorrow' Forests Today" (right) stopped PL owned logging trucks and were arrested.


Pacific Lumber Company blockade, 2004
Eureka, Humboldt County, California


Industrial deforestation dominates the coastal landscapes of California, Oregon and Washington where less than three percent of the ancient temperate rainforest survives. The dismal failure of American legislators to protect these beseiged forests spurred the formation of a dedicated network of activists and environmental groups. Many of the defenders of the redwoods are based in Humboldt County, California. This is the location of Headwaters Forest (right), home to the last unprotected giant redwood trees on Earth. Although some parts are protected, much of the Headwaters watershed is private forest land held by the Pacific Lumber Company (PL). Since 1984, when PL was taken over by Maxxam Inc of Texas (owned by the notorious Charles Hurwitz), there have been over two decades of non violent civil protests, treesits, arrests, lawsuits and court injunctions against activists dedicated to preventing the destruction of what little remains of the ancient Humboldt redwoods.

Judi Bari (1949 – 1997) was a prominent activist and Humboldt Earth First!er. She was a principal organizer of the Headwaters Forest Campaign which resulted in protesters being victimized by Humboldt County police as well as by PL employees. In 1990 Bari organized the landmark anti logging demonstration Redwood Summer and launched her revolutionary "Forests Forever Initiative" to make old growth destruction illegal. For her preservation efforts, Bari was the target of a vicious smear campaign by the logging industry, she received death threats, and she was severely maimed by a car bomb.


Julia Butterfly Hill, 13 November 1998
Photo: Shaun Walker


LovePod Treesit, Headwaters Forest, 1998
Photo: Barry Tessman

The young forest defender and expert tree climber David Nathan Chain (1974 – 1998), known also as "Gypsy," was tragically killed by a logger at the Grizzly Bear Creek Grove in 1998. Gypsy took part in the Headwaters Campaign and helped to install the LovePod in an ancient redwood at Bell Creek (above). A photo shows him traversing high above the tree canopy on his way to the LovePod in 1998 (right). The ingenious treehouse, with 15 steel panels suspended from a central cable on the trunk, was designed and built by forest activists Peaceman and Tigger.


Forest activists typically engage in various displays of non violent civil disobedience: climbing and occupying trees (left), blockading roads, locking themselves to logging equipment, and providing tactical support for fellow activists. Such protest has resulted in arrest, physical abuse, legal suits and criminal prosecutions. Since 1985, when treesitting began as a forest defence tactic, many treesits have been established in Humboldt County as a last resort tactic for tree protection.

Gypsy traversing to LovePod, 1998
Photo: Tigger (text added)


Jerry Treesit, Freshwater Creek, 2004
Photo: Amaret

In 2004 the Fern Gully Treesit was set up in one of the few remaining tracts of old growth in the Freshwater Creek area of the Headwaters Forest in northern Humboldt County. By 2005, the treesit had become an arboreal village with 22 trees tied together for canopy travel. A treetop raincatch system transported water 40 ft (12 m) down to a running tap at the platform and a solar panel was installed at 207 ft (63 m) in a tree named Watsi. The arboreal village was destroyed during a raid by the logging company, but the treesit continued. The Nanning Creek Treesit was located in Marbled Murrelet habitat in southern Humboldt County. It began in 2005 and was dedicated to the protection of "Spooner," a redwood with a height of 297 ft (90 m) and circumference of 45 ft (14 m). The treesit was raided by Pacific Lumber Company in 2007 but was reestablished.


Headwaters Forest has hosted a number of treesits on magnificent endangered redwoods such as "Jerry" at Freshwater Creek, named after Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead (left). Defying rain and inclement weather, treesitter Jeny Card, aka "Remedy," spent 361 days before being extracted by a logging company paid treeclimber.

Freshwater Creek redwood, 2005
Humboldt County, California


"Humboldt Pepper Spray 8," 20 September 2004
Photo: Nicholas Wilson


Non violent civil disobedience is fundamental to American traditions and the pepper spray assaults by Humboldt County police on forest activists in 1998 were challenged in court. The lawsuit was intended to uphold and protect the right to peaceful protest and symbolic action. Victory came on 20 September 2004 when the Headwaters Forest protesters – known as the "Humboldt Pepper Spray 8" – posed for a victory photo outside the San Francisco Federal Building (left). Finally their long ordeal and civil rights suit against Humboldt County and the City of Eureka had come to an end.

With this "pepper spray" case, forest activism has gone from the frontline politics of blockading logging roads to the sophisticated legal defense strategies necessary to take the corporate timber thugs and their partners in crime to court.


Naturally fallen ancient redwood tree
Humboldt Redwoods State Park

Humboldt County was named after the famous 19th century German naturalist, Alexander von Humboldt, who would have been pleased that a forest park with some of the tallest living beings on Earth is protected under his name. But as one of the earliest European scientists to celebrate big trees, Humboldt most certainly would have thought it tragic that most of the gigantic native trees of California, some well over 1,000 years in age, have been ruthlessly destroyed. Today the ecosystem that nurtured them is on the verge of extinction along with species that depend on it. Among the most notorious offenders is the reviled Pacific Lumber Company. See its atrocious record of violations: EPIC (Environmental Protection Information Center).

In 1997 to prevent the destruction of an ancient redwood tree located in the Headwaters Forest above the town of Stafford in Humboldt County, forest activist Julia Butterfly Hill began a treesit on 10 December which lasted until 18 December 1999 (right). From her arboreal platform on the giant tree which she affectionately called Luna, Julia wrote: "Here I can be the voice and face of this tree, and for the whole forest that can't speak for itself" Circle of Life.


When President Theodore Roosevelt addressed the California legislature in 1903 in an effort to protect the redwoods of Humboldt County, he pleaded: "I appeal to you to save these mighty trees, these wonderful monuments of beauty." His plea resulted in the Humboldt Redwoods State Park being established in 1905 "to be forever maintained in its primaeval state." Today the popular park is the largest remaining contiguous ancient redwood forest in the world (left).

Julia Butterfly Hill and Luna, 1998
Photo: Shaun Walker


As a result of her long and dedicated treesit, Julia was able to negotiate the protection of Luna with Pacific Lumber Company before she descended. The agreement did not prevent a vicious chainsaw attack on Luna in 2001 by an unknown assailant whose aim was to maim and kill the ancient tree which had become an icon of the forest defence movement and an object of hatred for loggers (right).

Luna with braces, visited by Julia, 2002
Headwaters Forest, Humboldt County


Julia visits Luna after attack, 2000
Photo: J. Ficklin

Tree doctors have devised braces and collars of metal to allow Luna to heal (left), but her long term fate is uncertain. In 2002, following a bittersweet visit, Julia reported: "The metal braces and cables are very sad to look at although I know that they are a big part of why she continues to stand. Luna is doing incredibly well considering how severely she was injured, and this of course brings me a lot of hope and joy."


At long last in 2008, after over two decades of ravaging the ancient surviving redwood groves of Humboldt County, the reviled Pacific Lumber Company collapsed through bankruptcy. It was taken over by the Mendocino Redwood Company (MRC) in September 2008 and renamed Humboldt Redwood Company. MRC says it will end clearcutting and the killing of the ancient trees but this remains to be seen. MRC is owned by the Fisher family (founder of the Gap chain) and was formed in 1998 with the takeover of Louisiana Pacific. Overlogging by MRC has been the focus of environmental protests; in 2002, for example, activists drove a 200 year old redwood stump logged in Mendocino County by MRC across the nation. It was displayed at a demonstration outside a Gap store on New York's Fifth Avenue during the meeting of the World Economic Forum on 1 February 2002 (right).


Protest against Gap, New York City, 2002
Photo: Brian Snyder


Anti Weyerhaeuser protest, Seattle, April 2004
Photo: Garth Lenz


The American logging company Weyerhaeuser is the 'Number One' destroyer of old growth forests in North America. In protest, Rainforest Action Network and its Canadian environmental partner Forest Action Network launched a campaign in 2004: Wake up Weyerhaeuser! The activists hung an enormous banner from a crane high above downtown Seattle, the corporate home of Weyerhaeuser (left). The activists were promptly arrested and charged with civil disobedience. "The forests are the flags of nature" wrote one nature lover in 1917, "They appeal to all and awaken inspiring universal feelings. Enter the forest and the boundaries of nations are forgotten. It may be that some time an immortal pine will be the flag of a united peaceful world" Enos A. Mills.


Klamath Siskiyou blockade, Oregon, June 2004
Photo: Greenpeace USA


In 2004 Greenpeace USA demanded an immediate moratorium on commercial logging and road construction in the remaining big tree forests on public lands. To publicize the need for ancient forest protection, four frontline activists attached themselves to a three ton cargo container placed by Greenpeace in a logging operation in Klamath Siskiyou forest in Oregon, a large roadless wilderness (left).

The activists were later arrested."It is time to restore the damage that has been done to our public lands by 100 years of abuse by the US Forest Service . . . if the American people don’t draw a line in the sand, then the Bush administration is going to leave us with a tragic legacy, a graveyard of stumps" Ginger Cassidy, Forest Campaigner: Greenpeace USA.


Siskiyous clearcuts, 2005
Google Earth, Native Forest Council

Few intact native forests are left in Oregon yet the US Forest Service continues to promote logging and the conversion of public forests into industrial tree farms. Protests against the logging of Umpqua National Forest in 1999 resulted in failure when Bear Paw, a roadless wilderness area, was clearcut by the Boise Cascade Company (right).


Clearcut logging on the Northwest Coast has led to disastrous environmental conditions in many watersheds. Logging violations can easily be seen in satellite and aircraft views that simulate and model the terrain. An example is the Google Earth view of Siskiyous Forest of Oregon (left). Such clearcutting scenes of endangered forests support the demand to end all resource extraction on publicly owned lands: Native Forest Council.

650 year old tree killed, 1999
Photo: Umpqua Watersheds


Sisters of the Siskiyou, Green Bridge, 16 May 2005
Photo: Justine Rohde

To protest against old growth logging in Oregon's Siskiyou National Forest by the Silver Creek Lumber Company, a demonstration was held on 16 May 2005 (right). At the Green Bridge five brave women joined arms and prevented a loaded logging truck from continuing on to the Roseburg Forest Products Mill (above). The women were all arrested and spent the night in jail. Their spirited protest inspired a song dedicated to them: Sisters of the Siskiyou (YouTube).


When the US Forest Service approved a massive timber sale in the Siskiyou National Forest in Oregon – one of the largest and most botanically diverse wildlands left in the US – it was opposed by more than 95 percent of the public. The Klamath Siskiyou Wildlands Center was formed in 1997 to fight the ramped up logging policies. In 2005 ancient forest activists and concerned citizens began a logging road blockade at the popularly named Green Bridge (left).

Green Bridge, 16 May 2005
Photo: Justine Rohde


Green Bridge has been the site of many protests against old growth logging in the Siskiyou National Forest and of several crackdowns and arrests by police (right). The forest activists believe that unjust laws must be confronted with civil disobedience. They are part of a popular ancient forest protection movement on the Northwest Coast that shows no sign of abating: "This broad coalition – of local woodsmen, business owners, teachers, retirees, sportsmen, students and Earth First! – is united in a historic confrontation. The outcome of this struggle will impact national forest policy for decades to come" Oxygen Collective.

Arrest of Joan Norman, Green Bridge, 8 March 2005
Photo: Oxygen Collective


Mass arrests, Green Bridge, 12 March 2005
Photo: Oxygen Collective

Among those arrested was Joan Norman (1933 – 2005), a long time peace activist and defender of ancient forests who once remained in jail for 16 days rather than post bail. She spoke eloquently of her dedication to the big trees: "No, I am not afraid. I am 72 years old . . . I would rather go out in a blaze, defending the world I love. I am more afraid that my grandchildren will think I did not try hard enough to leave them a legacy of peace, and a world worth living in. I don't want them to know the beauty of trees by looking at a book. I want them to be able to walk among 800 year old trees and know that is our destiny" Oxygen Collective.


Ancient tree stump, Styx Valley
Tasmania, Australia

In 2005 young activists from around the world who had participated in a forest camp in Gippsland, Australia, posed for a group photo (right) with the banner: "Extinction is Forever." Following the camp, forest activists took part in a blockade at the nearby Eden Woodchip Mill to protest against the destruction of the last old growth forest on mainland Australia, home to endangered species such as the "Long footed Potoroo" (Potorous longipes), the "Sooty Owl" (Tyto tenebricosa) and the "Powerful Owl" (Ninox strenu). See: Goongerah Environment Centre.


Elsewhere in the world, too, the situation is bleak for what remains of the besieged old growth forests. In 2005 two prominent forest activists were murdered in Brazil for their defense of the rapidly disappearing Amazon rainforest: Dorothy Stang (1931 – 2005) and Dionisio Ribeiro Filho (1946 – 2005). Also Australia, another British colonial country like Canada, is still dominated by unsustainable "strip and sell" policies toward the exploitation of the natural resources (left).

Extinction Is Forever! 2005
Goongerah Environment Centre


Protesters, Eden Woodhip Mill, 2 July 2006
Photo: Erland Howden

For almost four decades, Australian conservationists have opposed woodchipping at Eden. On 2 July 2006 over 600 people from around the country gathered at the Eden Woodchip Mill to protest (above). Earlier that year four women activists had been arrested and charged in court for stopping the mill operation by locking themselves to the heavy equipment. One of them, India Ilett, explained why she felt compelled to draw attention to the continuing tragedy of native forest destruction: "160 trucks a day take loads of logs to the chip mill, every one of those logs was formerly the living home to hundreds of creatures, some of them threatened . . . These animals can't speak for themselves, I was there for them" ChipStop.

The Chipstop campaign focuses on how native forest policy and management is driven by woodchipping. It supports environmental activism and corporate targeting as well as encouraging nature education through poetry (right).


Australian activists accuse the Japanese owned Daishowa Paper Products Company of unethical practices. Since 1969, when it began operating a woodchip mill at Eden in New South Wales, it has processed over 30 million tons of trees (below).

Eden Woodchip Mill, Australia
Photo: Erland Howden

Poem by Catharine Moore


Another ancient Australian forest that has been devastated by the woodchip industry is in the Styx Valley of Tasmania. The "gum" or mountain ash (Eucalyptus regnans) trees that grow here are the tallest in the world; they have been known to reach heights in excess of 130 m (although the tallest specimen living today is 96.5 m) and can reach 400 years in age. For decades, the forest industry has clearcut logged these huge trees and processed them as wood chips to be shipped to Japan for cardboard. By 1996 only around 13 percent of the big gum trees remained. Among them was "El Grande," declared to be the largest hardwood tree and flowering plant on Earth when it was discovered in 2002. Almost four centuries old, El Grande was 79 m high with a girth of 20 m. Soon after her discovery, the tree was killed following a regeneration burn by state foresters (right).

In 2003, angered by the wanton destruction of El Grande, The Wilderness Society organized a protest of some 4,000 people. Environmentalists complained that El Grande was never valued by government forestry officials. In 2004, an international campaign was organized against Australia's largest logging company, the reviled Gunns Ltd. A protest by Greenpeace in Brussels exposed Bomaco, the Belgian timber company for importing Tasmanian old growth wood. To punish the Australian activists, including two Green politians, Gunns launched a $6.3 million legal case against them.


El Grande after the fire, Tasmania, 2003
Photo: Alan Gray


Design of a tree sit platform
Photo: Andrew Maynard

In an attempt to halt the destruction of the Styx Valley, in 2003 activists formed human barricades to stop bulldozers and logging trucks, and erected tree platforms in Gandalf's Staff (right). Finally, after 18 months of campaigning, the state agency Forestry Tasmania announced that it would protect Gandalf's Staff under its Giant Tree Policy, which unfortunately did not provide an adequate buffer zone for the tree. Over 85 percent of old growth forests has been logged in Tasmania and ancient trees continue to be clearcut logged by Gunns, which in 2008 was given approval for a huge new pulp mill. Also in the southwestern state of Victoria, the native regnans forests of the Otway Ranges are endangered by industrial forestry. Otway Ranges Environment Network conducted a successful decade long campaign to stop the destruction of native forests for woodchips, leading to the 2005 legislation that creates a new Great Otway National Park and prohibits all clearcut logging for woodchips on public land by 2008.


In 2003, to prevent the killing of a grand old eucalyptus tree named "Gandalf's Staff" in the Styx Valley of Tasmania, activists built a 65 m tree platform equipped with solar power, a satellite phone, laptop computers and a month's worth of food. To explore the possibilities of a more permanent aboreal camp for future protests, architect Andrew Maynard designed a structure spread over three trees, allowing as many as six tree sitters at a time to occupy the platform.

Gandalf's Staff, Styx Valley, 2007
Tasmania, Australia


"Styx Devastation: A Global Issue," 2006
Tasmania, Australia

On World Environment Day, 5 June 2007, a demonstration was held in a massive industrial log dump in the Highlands region of the State of Victora (right). Australian activists accuse politicians of an "act of unseemly doublespeak" whereby "the country that is perhaps most impacted by climate change continues to log its last centuries old trees found in ancient forest ecosystems vital for holding both carbon and water" and they call on political leaders to end their hypocrisy and immediately protect the native forests. Hopes were raised when rockstar – activist Peter Garett, who in 1993 took part in the Clayoquot Sound protest, was appointed Australia's new Environment Minister in 2008. The question is: will he have the strength to contain the corporate greed of the logging establishment?


Protests in the Styx Valley of Tasmania continue with activists stressing the global role that native old growth forests have as carbon sinks (left). Logging these forests causes massive carbon emissions and reduces their carbon carrying capacity. Activists in Australia increasingly demand that politicians tackle climate change by protecting the native forests for their important carbon, water and biodiversity values.

"Logging Causes Climate Change"
Photo: Peter Halasz


Florentine treesit and protest, Tasmania, 2007
Photo: Huon Valley Environment Centre

Tree activists accuse Forestry Tasmania of allowing illegal logging operations to occur in the World Heritage valued forests of the Weld valley and Florentine, encouraging a culture of violence and intimidation against peaceful protestors, such as the Weld Angel (above and right). For over nine hours Allana Beltran perched above a logging road until she was forcibly removed by a crane and arrested. "They don't just clip their wings" writes an incredulous Italian journalist, "They haul them out of trees, march them off to court, then charge them for being just that. Angels. Then they sue the lovers of these angels, even when they're dying" Huon Valley Environment Centre.


Florentine treesit and protest, 2007
Photo: Huon Valley Environment Centre