The BCC2020 has chosen to raise funds for the Bob Brown Foundation in my home state of Tasmania. Bob, who created the world’s first Green Party back in the ‘70s, is attempting to save one forest in particular – takayna in the northwestern region of Tasmania (or The Tarkine as non-Aboriginal people call it).
It is the largest tract of temperate rainforest in Australia and one of the largest such forests on earth. At this very moment takayna is being brutalized with access roads chopping the forest into coupes, the size of football stadiums, that are imminently due for logging. Much is already lost. I couldn’t sit back any longer.
When the first settlers arrived in Tasmania (or Van Diemen’s Land as it was named back in 1803) the great myrtle trees of this forest were already 600 years old. Interestingly, these myrtle forests are virtually the same as those in Patagonia and point to Tasmania being part of the supercontinent of Gondwana, which broke away from Pangaea between 600 and 240 million years ago.
Over the years I’ve written about forest conservation issues for the Guardian and Observer newspapers. I reported on Forestry Tasmania when they killed the largest hardwood tree on earth, El Grande (at 79 metres tall and with a girth of 20 metres).
However, direct activism, tree sitting, is something I have never done. Even though I care deeply about these precious forests my spastic body often just finds it too difficult. Except for short windows when I have my therapeutic Botox injections - then my body is nice and relaxed. I have twenty deep needles down my right side three times a year to relax my muscles.
You see, I am paralysed down my right side after a brain injury on the famous Totem Pole (I think I had a hand in making it famous). A laptop sized flake of dolerite split my skull open 22 years ago. After a year in a wheelchair in hospital and ten years walking up increasingly sizeable hills, I re-booted my climbing career. Though this was a full 11 years after my accident, I could not have tied into the sharp end any sooner. I led my first route, a runout slab, at Arco in Italy – it was graded 2c but I think it was at least 3b [Ed: These are very easy climbing grades].