You know the movie 500 Days of Summer? In that movie, the narrator explained that it was not a love story. Well, what you are going to read is more likely a love story. Not from a boy and a girl, but this is a love story from a school teacher to the nature.
You might have read many articles about protests and actions to protect the nature, but this school teacher’s commitment was clearly in another level. She risked her life just to get the nature’s rights to be protected from destructive hands is back.
Meet Miranda Gibson, a school teacher and activist from Australia who protested the destruction of nature by living up on a tree for almost 500 days. Exactly 459 days, Miranda Gibson risked her life in any cases to protect a virgin forest by sitting on a tree almost the whole time.
Visit To Tasmania
Since young, Miranda Gibson has shown her interest in conserving the nature. But her desire to be an activist was held back due to lack of information. But it wasn’t until Gibson entered university that she met forest activism.
A view of forest activism that she developed at that time might sound a little bit extreme. “People can go in there, put their bodies on the line and the logging literally stops,” she said. It means that she thought that it was okay to risk their lives on the line to protect the forest.
But those was not just a speech, she actually planned to risk her life to protect a forest. In one fine day of university holiday, she flew to Tasmania after she found out that there was a virgin forest cutting in the island.
“The first thing I saw was the biggest tree I’d seen, and it was cut down — it was a stump. That really hit home to me what was at stake,” Gibson said in an interview. She then decided to move to the island to do full time protesting about that forest cutting.
She spent the time she lived in Upper Florentine Valley blockade to do protesting for four years. But she felt that her protesting was not successful to stop the cruelty. “What I saw was massive amounts of forest fall. It felt like we couldn’t stop it, no matter what we did,” she said.
Almost she quit the protest because it didn’t gain enough attention, she came to a revelation. “It was a devastating process. I was at a point where I was ready to quit. What I thought we needed was international pressure to put the nomination in and get the world heritage listing,” said Gibson.
Being at her lowest point, she stumbled upon an interesting information and idea to do future protests. Gibson discovered that there was actually an internet connection in the forest which was in the schedule to be cut down.
Internet connection will allow her to do some livestream to the whole world. That way, she would allow the world to witness the destruction of virgin forest in real time. “I thought if other people see it, they’ll know what’s at stake — they’ll know it’s real,” said Gibson.
And that day, she decided to do a fully committed action to protest the cutting of the forest. On December 14 2011, Gibson climbed a 60-meters tall Eucalyptus delegatensis tree and declared that she would never get down the tree until the Tyenna Forest get its right to be protected back.
Not only that, she also demanded surrounding areas to be protected too. At that time, the area was being scheduled to be logged by Ta’an, a Malaysian company although it was supposed to be protected by Forest International Agreement.
Gibson wasn’t actually realized what she was getting herself into at the first day of climbing the tree. Waiting for a forest logging to stop will not give you an exact amount of time to count, it might happen just the next day or few more decades.
However, she just didn’t care much about the time, she only wanted to protect the forest. “I didn’t know if that day would be two or 10 years away, but I had hoped for the sake of the forests that it wouldn’t take that long,” she told The Guardian.
It was clear that she didn’t know that she was going to spend almost 500 days on top of the tree without once coming down the ground. “I had no idea what I was really getting myself in for. But I vowed to remain until the forests were protected,” she said.
She had to endure the rain and the wind for the whole time, even if it is winter. But she had not set her foot on the ground for just once since that time. “The longer I was up there, the more interest it got. People were like, ‘she’s really committed, or what’s going on?” said Gibson.
For the whole time, she lived on a wooden platform wrapped around the tree. it was about 1.5 meters wide and few more meters long. Going to the toilet was a challenge. “I just went to the toilet in a bucket. Nothing fancy. Then I just had some lovely, supportive ground crew who were responsible for emptying the bucket and sending it back up,” she said.
Living alone for more 459 days was not easy of course, Gibson was challenged by frustration, loneliness, boredom, and isolation. “I would often feel this complete sense of frustration. I would just want to walk somewhere — or I’d just like to see something a tiny bit different, even for half an hour, just a different view,” she said.
She regularly uploaded pictures and video while being on top of the tree in search of whole world attention so she could inform more people about her fight. And it really paid off, the whole world attention she wanted was increasing from time to time.
However, people were kind of got carried away from the real message and paid more attention to her presence instead of her fight. “Eventually what I had to do was say, ‘my life out there doesn’t really matter right now, and just forget about it and be really present in the tree,” Gibson said.
That was where the government realized that her act was a real fight. Australian environment minister in February 2013, about the 400th day since Gibson went up the tree, announced that 170,000 hectares of Tasmanian forest was nominated for world heritage listing.
She wanted to continue the fight until the whole area was officially protected. However, a forest fire in the area had to stop her, she decided to come down the tree. “”I wasn’t ready to say goodbye to the tree. I felt I was breaking that promise by getting down,” she said.
However, her fight has caused a huge effect to the forest. World Heritage Committee announced that the forest she protected was gained the status as world heritage. “That’s done; 170,000 hectares — including my tree — world heritage,” she proudly said.