The tree is the teacher of connection, and a gentle way of learning place, strengthening resolve about what your life’s work is. Sometimes this is a reflection of learning about the past, sitting with this and acknowledging the violations of people and the places of their ancestors. And then being here in the present, seeing what really is, when we stop, look and use the teachers that are patiently waiting. The stillness, assuredness and strength that taking time to connect with our own place brings, a new conversation for the future begins.
Awareness of the clearing of local bush is one thing we can become aware of in our local areas. I’m fortunate to live in the semi rural area of the Sunshine Coast Queensland, there are two council areas that I generally work within. One is Noosa and the other is the Sunshine Coast. The land in Noosa is cleared at 1% per year, it’s a small district 330 square miles, and has an established record of activism and local involvement to make sure areas are protected.
The Sunshine Coast is much larger geographically 670 square miles and land there is cleared at 15% per year to make way for the urban and industrial sprawl. I’m always torn, yes we want bigger better roads and everyone is entitled to have the house they desire, but how do we manage the balance.
Two different scenarios have come to my attention, firstly the ‘Save Steve Irwin Way Forest’ I only became aware of this towards the end of the protests, because two massive 800 year old sentient trees were felled. I was fortunate to be taken into the forest to meet the old grandmother trees that were saved, and learn the story of the four years of partitioning meetings and hard work that went into restricting the clearing for the Bruce Highway/Steve Irwin Way upgrade.
Initially I thought it would be a good thing to make artwork honoring the trees that were going to be lost, but I was shocked at how quickly the clearing happened. And so it became about celebrating and recording the forest that was saved. It was hard to get to that point in my head. One day I stood in the clearing where the forest had once been, the bare earth raw beneath my feet, the smell of broken trees. The trees crushed into piles of tangled roots, leaves, branches all mixed up. And then I went back into the forest and stood with the grandmother tree that was watching, the strong women I stood there with showed the strength of this story.
The second scenario was on a much smaller scale, a friend went on holidays and when they returned a 10 metre strip of their neighbor’s land right down their boundary fence, and all the way around their neighbor’s 10 acre property, had been cleared. This is Wallum Woodlands/Wetlands habitat Melaleuca and Sedges, beautiful country full of weaving fibre and hidden treasures. The reasoning was a fire track, the block is on a corner with a wide dirt road. The devastation of the piles of trees shoved to the sides, the wet muddy ground exposed, massive clumps of sedges uprooted, it seemed like human madness to violate the bush in such a way.
I went there and spent time collecting debris and just quietly walked around feeling the place, acknowledging the violation and loss, wondering what part of the 15% each year this represented.
SAVE YOUR STEVE IRWIN WAY FOREST https://www.facebook.com/groups/1534664276756435/
Friends of the Forest/Steve Irwin Way Forest Group: https://www.facebook.com/Friends-of-the-ForestSteve-Irwin-Way-Forest-group-1778545602360636