On Thursday March 7, Miranda Gibson reluctantly left her perch high up in the Observer Tree in Southern Tasmania, after 449 days, as a wildfire burned to within a kilometre and it became clear that predicted hot weather early next week could precipitate an emergency situation in the remote forest.
Smoke was filling the Tyenna Valley and the sounds of crashing trees could be heard nearby as the wildfire grew from 3 hectares on Wednesday to 40 hectares by the time Miranda descended on Thursday, with the fire currently unable to be contained.
Miranda, of Still Wild Still Threatened, has spent almost 15 months in the Observer Tree after she climbed up on 14th December 2011, vowing to remain as long as possible to defend the forests, including the World Heritage value area in which the tree is situated. In July 2012 Miranda broke the Australian record of 209 days for the longest running tree-sit.
“Nature can be wild and unpredictable, and whilst I was able to withstand winter snow and summer heat exposed to the elements 60 metres up the Observer Tree, it is the sensible and safe decision to climb down now rather than put lives at risk with the bushfire so close,” Ms Gibson said.
“Our campaign to stop the logging of these World Heritage nominated forests and of the proposed protected areas will continue despite my exit from the Observer Tree. Although it is disappointing to leave this forest whilst these precious places continue to fall to the chainsaw, I have a huge respect for the forces of nature that are in play. And I remain as dedicated as ever to standing up for Tasmania’s threatened forests. “
Miranda has gathered a large international following as she has communicated with people around the planet via solar powered internet from the remote tree tops of Tasmania.
“I want to stress that magnificent forests are still in jeopardy, including places it has been agreed should be protected and become World Heritage listed, and that our will to see them safe remains as strong as ever. The campaign for these globally significant forests will now move into a new phase,” Ms Gibson concluded.
A Forestry Tasmania investigation has found that the wildfire was most likely deliberately lit. Police are currently investigating the matter.
Support is desperately needed for the Observer Tree campaign at this point. You can help contribute to Miranda’s ongoing work to stop the logging of World Heritage nominated ancient forests in Tasmania by donating here.