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1st December, 2004
Repulsing the logging invasion of Tasmania’s wet eucalypt forest by Paul KingsnorthIt’s raining in the Styx Valley, but Lee barely seems to notice. He wants to show me the forest. We’re walking downhill through the misty rain, sliding on wet mud and roots. Lee, who works for the Tasmania Wilderness Society (TWS), is fingering leaves, listening to the calls of birds high up in the canopy, pointing out things he thinks I ought to know about. ‘This is a wet eucalypt forest,’ he explains, as I pick my way across a fallen tree. ‘There’s less than 20 per cent of this left in the whole of Tasmania, and only 5 per cent of it is protected.’ He examines the leaf of a small sapling weaving its way upwards from under a tangle of moss and leaf mould. ‘A baby myrtle,’ he says. ‘These can last 1,000 years.’ He moves on. I follow, steadying myself on low-slung vines.
The forest we’re walking through is unlike anything I have ever seen. It is a verdant mass of vast, thick-trunked, ancient eucalypts, smaller, younger trees, and a low-level jungle of oddly beautiful bushes and shrubs. The canopy of this temperate rainforest is 70 metres above our heads, and from it come the calls of whip birds, cockatoos, rosellas and parrots. Thick vines hang...
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