March 21 is International Day of Forests, so it was fitting that several tree spirits invaded the former timber town of Wauchope, on the mid-north coast, to speak for the trees.
The spirits moved up and down the High Street. They inserted themselves into the Wauchope murals, placed themselves artistically along the main street to engage passersby, visited the pre-poll station, called in to the National Party office and read poetry outside the supermarket.
“The trees spirits felt that the townspeople needed to know what is happening in the forests that surround them. The forests of the mid-north coast have been among the hardest hit by what was previously 'unauthorised' intensive logging. They will also cop the brunt of the new logging rules that will see huge areas cleared, for what the logging industry call, a re-set. 1.” said tree spirit spokesperson Susie Russell.
“In the 1990s the logging industry claimed that if any forests were protected and the Wauchope sawmill had to close, the town would die. The sawmill closed but the town has grown and prospered. Rural communities are resilient and can adapt to change where there is support and where alternative industries can develop.
“Protecting forests instead of logging them can create many more opportunities for employment that are ongoing. Forestry these days is more akin to whaling. The big trees are mainly gone, the mature trees are being logged out, and what will remain if the industry continues it's current trajectory is depauperate expanses of juvenile trees. Forests that are but a shadow of their former selves.
“The tree spirits want the forests to thrive. They want the rivers to run full and clean and the animals to find shelter and food. They want forests to be places people go for rest, enjoyment and education. They see ecosystem services such as carbon storage a means of raising much needed funds for forest restoration,” Ms Russell said.
“Healthy forests, growing old in peace is absolutely crucial to a healthy planets where humans are able to also grow old in peace,” Susie Russell said.
1. Quote from Timber NSW Marie McCaskill reported in The Land Oct, 2017 “Forest resetting can be visually confronting and is often mistaken for clear-felling.”