By Richard Shears An environmentalist has been forced to come back down to earth following a record-breaking 457 day treetop protest after the forest she was trying to protect was threatened by a bushfire. Miranda Gibson, 31, climbed down from the 100ft tall, 400-year-old eucalyptus tree in Tazmania to a hero’s welcome, as the fire [...]

Sunday Times 2

Bushfire forces protester to abandon her 457 day sit-in

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By Richard Shears

An environmentalist has been forced to come back down to earth following a record-breaking 457 day treetop protest after the forest she was trying to protect was threatened by a bushfire.
Miranda Gibson, 31, climbed down from the 100ft tall, 400-year-old eucalyptus tree in Tazmania to a hero’s welcome, as the fire raged just two kilometres away.

Smoke rises in the background from the approaching bush fire as protestor Miranda Gibson prepares to come back down to earth after her record-breaking protest

So long was her stay on a platform in the tree in the Styx Valley, 60 miles north west of Hobart, that she had missed a close friend of hers becoming pregnant and having the baby.
‘I missed a lot of things while I was up there,’ 31-year-old Miss Gibson said when her feet finally touched the ground again to applause from a group of supporters.
‘It was a difficult decision to evacuate, but necessary,’ she said, fighting back tears.
‘The fire is only about two kilometres from where I am so it’s quite close and potentially a high level of risk if it comes this way.’
Her sit-in was an Australian record for a tree protest, which started when she and her conservation group Still Wild Still Threatened learned ancient trees in the valley were due to be felled by logging companies. Last December she celebrated a year in the 400-year-old gum tree in a campaign that generated world-wide attention.
She used modern technology – a solar-powered laptop and phone – to send her conservation message into classrooms, boardrooms and lounge rooms across the world. ‘I don’t think I would have expected to be up here for a whole year – I really hoped there would be that protection (of trees) in place before now.’
Coming to terms with isolation and coping with Tasmania’s harsh winter weather were her biggest challenges, she said.
‘A friend of mine fell pregnant and has had a baby since I was in the tree and I didn’t get to be part of that,’ said the former teacher. She pointed out that a lot of people didn’t know about the threat to Tasmania’s forests and she had received a large number of emails thanking her for making the world aware.
Among those congratulating Miss Gibson for her Australian record-breaking sit-in was former Australian Greens leader Bob Brown who told her as her feet touched the ground: ‘You’re our hero of the forests’.
Daily Mail, London




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