Protestors move out of little red Toolangi tree house
10th April 2014
Protesters have finished removing a tree house that has been the center of a campaign to rethink logging in the Toolangi state forest for the last 6 months.
The structure, known to locals as The Little Red Toolangi Tree house, took three days to remove due to its precarious location 30 meters above the ground. The tree house was attached to the branches of a towering mountain ash tree.
The Mansfield court ordered the tree house to be removed at a hearing on the 12th of March. The protestors were given 28 days to take down the structure.
The decision to remove the tree house was put forward by The Department of Environments and Primary Industries (DEPI) who oversee management of the area. DEPI says that structures that have been erected without a licence cannot be condoned. Lucas Russel, DEPIs district manager for the Toolangi area, says he has given the activists plenty of time to make their point.
Harley Sanderson said the protestors were weighing up the benefits of ignoring the order but decided that it was important to reserve the tree house, as it is now “iconic symbol of resistance”
The final decision to remove the tree house before the court date was made on the grounds that it would be unfair to make taxpayers bear the cost of it’s removal and the “tree house was too precious to be destroyed”, a spokesperson for the tree house said.
The court dispute was between DEPI and ‘unknown’ as they could not identify an owner of the tree house. Kevi Sanyu, a forest campaigner at The Wilderness Society, said the government had failed to understand that the community owned the tree house. “They can’t put DEPI verses the Victorian community can they?” he asked.
Activists have been living in the tree house since independent arborists erected it in October. The house measures just 14 square meters and was equipped with solar generated electricity. The support camp at the base of the tree was responsible for sending up food and other supplies via a rope pulley system.
Sanderson, who lived in the tree house for 5 weeks, says it was one of the most amazing experiences he has ever had.
Mr Sanyu believes taxpayers need to have a better understanding of their entitlements in regards to the forest. “These are public forest, these are public assets, that are belonging to all Victorians,” he said.
Patrick Baker, a forest ecologist, says the tree sit protest perfectly dichotomizes the problem. “In forest management all and nothing are simply not realistic options for anybody. It’s the middle ground where all the diverse options are and that space hasn’t been explored at all,” said Mr Baker.
The group say they will now turn their energy into promoting the great forest national park, which they hope will one day be a world-class tourist destination.