by OLIVIA SHEAD
How far would you go for something you believed in? Would you give up your bed? Your house? Your job? Your life?
For most, dedication to a cause goes as far as chitchat over the dinner table but for Miranda Gibson, dedication means something completely different.
As I write this, Miranda has been living 60 metres up an ancient Eucalyptus tree for over seven months. She’s given up everything we take for granted, all to highlight the hidden truths of Tasmanian logging.
Miranda’s view is of untouched southern forests but the trees immediately in front of her – including the one that has been her home for so long – are under imminent threat.
Miranda is protesting against logging in Tasmania and has gone to extraordinary lengths to support her cause. She has withstood intolerable conditions of smoke haze to snow, but Miranda is not about to give up.
Mere weeks ago she broke the Australian record for the longest tree sit and she’s not planning on coming down anytime soon.
I caught up with Miranda over the phone to find out exactly what it’s like living away from civilisation and to get her answer on some pretty curious questions – like, ah, how does she go to the toilet?
1) How would you explain the cause you’re fighting for, to someone who knows nothing about it, in 30 seconds?
I’m up this tree because this area of forest is under threat from logging. It was originally meant to be included in the conservation agreement that was meant to be in place in August last year. But unfortunately that never happened.
Basically a company called Ta Ann uses this area for their wood supply demands, which has meant that a lot of areas that were meant to be protected are still under threat and still being logged. So I wanted to come up this tree and expose to the world that these forests are still under threat despite the fact that they have been verified at now world heritage and national heritage significance.
2) Do you ever have doubts that what you’re doing won’t stop the logging?
I feel that what I am doing is really important in terms of getting the word out there. Through the fact that I’m up here and have access to my computer and my phone means that I can basically communicate with people in Tasmania and around the world about the value of these forests.
That’s had a massive impact so far in the time that I’ve been up here, with a lot of people getting on board and through that there’s a lot of pressure on Ta Ann to actually come into line with the statements they’ve been making. One of the key issues is that they’re actually declaring that their products are environmentally friendly and have told customers that they’re made from plantations and managed regrowth. So it’s been really great to be up here and expose the truth.
3) Do you ever think about quitting?
Not at all. Obviously I have hard days up here and it can be quite challenging but I look out to this amazing forest and everything that I see here – the tall trees around me, the birds I see – all of it is under threat. The forest inspires me and reminds me why I’m here and strengthens my determination to stay as long as it takes.
4) Do you miss human contact?
I definitely miss spending time with my friends and family and it can get isolated and lonely. But on the other side I have got my blog online where I have been talking via skype to different events around the world and through that contact I’ve found so much support which really keeps me going.
5) How do you stay connected to the world?
I have got a solar panel and a small wind generator, which keeps my electricity going. I’m also lucky enough to be quite high on the ridge, which means I’m in line with the towers that give me phone and Internet reception. It’s such a unique opportunity to be in the middle of a forest but being connected to the world.
6) What are your living conditions like?
I basically have a small platform that is suspended to the tree and half of that has weatherproofing with a tarp over it. I have a swag for a bed and I have a whole bunch of supplies up here for food.
7) How do you go to the bathroom?
I have a simple composting toilet set up which gets sent down. Everything I need to get up or get down I send on a rope on a pulley system.
8) So you are not completely alone?
No, it takes a lot of people on the ground supporting me to keep this running. I’m very grateful for all the people who spend their time at the base of the tree who send things up and down to me.
Earlier this month Mamamia’s Managing Editor, Jamila Rizvi chatted with Today Tonight about Miranda’s campaign and discussed whether or not these sort of political stunts can actually make a difference.
To find out more about what Miranda is fighting for visit her blog here.
Olivia is a journalism student and an intern at Mamamia. A lot of her time is spent running her online vintage clothing store, which you can check out here.
How far would you be willing to go for a cause you believed in? Do you think Miranda’s campaign will make a difference?