opinion

Australians mourned the burning of the Amazon. What about our own rainforest under attack?

Australians watched on in abject horror through their screens as the ‘lungs of the planet’ blazed and blackened.

After weeks of raging fires consumed large stretches of the Amazon, the media eventually turned our eyes to the global tragedy.

A flood of chilling soundbites filled our feeds. Distraught indigenous communities screamed for their homeland as ancient, irreplaceable water and food systems incinerated in seconds.

All we could do was witness and wonder… how could this happen?

How could Brazilian President, Jair Bolsonaro, fail to protect his own people? How could he put a price on an ecosystem that sucks up 20 per cent of global carbon emissions when the world is in a state of existential climate crisis?

These questions remain unanswered, outside of the obvious and insufficient response of revenue. It’s now time for Australia to ask the same questions of its own government as the pristine Tasmanian Tarkine Rainforest once again comes under attack.

After preventing Forestry Tasmania (renamed Sustainable Timber Tasmania) from logging the Tarkine via peaceful protest from September 2018 to June 2019, Bob Brown and 20 more protesters are back to fight yet another battle in the never-ending Tarkine war.

The Tarkine (Indigenous name: takayna) is located in the north-west of Tasmania and is one of the world’s last cool-temperate rainforests. It is home to countless precious Australian flora and fauna, including several endangered species such as the iconic Tasmanian devil and wedge-tailed eagle.

tarkine forest
The Tasmanian Tarkine rainforest. Image: Supplied.

As well as being rich with the hundreds of birds, the forest sits on the bank the Frankland River system where one can find the largest freshwater crayfish in the world.

This epic natural wonder holds a high concentration of scared Aboriginal sites and is considered one of the world’s great archaeological regions.

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The former leader of the Greens and his eco-squad have been engaging in peaceful tree-sits in the Sumac for the last week to stop the logging of the native Myrtle and Eucalyptus trees that are set to provide timber for the controversial Malaysian company Ta Ann; a corporation that has been black-listed by many for ‘severe damage’ in the deforestation of Borneo.

If Brown and his team lose this fight, most of these hundred-year-old natives will be bulldozed, chainsawed, and finish up in industrial wood chippers. The area will then be firebombed, releasing an immense amount of carbon into the atmosphere.

Last week saw the first arrest of 21-year-old Hobart resident Andy Szollosi, charged with trespassing on Sustainable Timber Tasmania land. Brown took to Twitter to publicly declare his intentions to continue his peaceful protest to protect the Tarkine.

“We are here for the long haul, we are here for the Sumac Ridge, the Tarkine Forest and the rights of future generations – that’s us, we’re strong.”

Comedian Wendy Harmer shared the tweet, adding, “What the hell is this? From now on NO posting about razing The Amazon when we have this atrocity in our own backyards.”

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The Bob Brown Foundation is demanding federal and state political leaders make a final commitment to permanently protect the Tarkine by way of turning it into a national park and returning it to Aboriginal ownership.

A recent poll taken by Ucomms showed strong support from local Tasmanian residents in favour of the Tarkine National Park.

The proposed logging of such precious and irreplaceable regions comes as Australia lives through one of its toughest droughts and, combined with governmental water mismanagement, rivers run dry; forcing farming families and indigenous communities to find new homes.

On ABC’s Q&A last Monday Indigenous artist and river activist, Bruce Shillingsworth, fired a string of heart-shattering rhetorical questions relating to the capitalism and corruption that have led to the destruction of aquatic ecosystems.

“How do we bring back the 50-year-old cod? How do we bring back the freshwater mussels? How do we bring back the aquatic life, the ecosystems, and the animals that relied on the river and the water?

As extractivism issues put pressure on citizens, wipe out entire species, and threaten water systems, we must ask when will the destruction stop? At what point will leaders put natural wonders and their people’s well-being before profit? These questions are especially concerning with Queensland and London both cracking down on peaceful protests after recent disruption from climate activists Extinction Rebellion.

“How could this happen?” is what we asked ourselves when the Amazon was burned black, when half of the reef was bleached white. Surely the least we can do is throw our unshakable support behind these peaceful protestors putting their bodies on the line to take a strong stance that says, "We won’t let this happen."

If we don’t support those brave enough to put up a fight, won’t the list of unanswerable questions grow?

How do we bring back the Tasmanian Devil?

How do we bring back the wedge-tailed eagle?

How do we bring back the freshwater crayfish, the clean water?

How do bring back the air?


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