Mountain ashed

Environmental crime in the forest

Featured in

  • Published 20190806
  • ISBN: 9781925773798
  • Extent: 264pp
  • Paperback (234 x 153mm), eBook

I’M STANDING IN the shifting forest in the muted light of dusk. Above me, a tall tree with a vast tapering trunk stretches its antlered branches into the sky. Mountain ash, Eucalyptus regnans: the tallest flowering plant in the world. Fern fronds wave in the wind and bushes hunch in the understorey. I hear rustlings in the leaf litter. The monotonous rhythmic piping of an eastern yellow robin. The distant cackle of a kookaburra: the last bird to call before night. In the gloom I wait, listening to the breath of the forest, the hum of mosquitoes. It’s peaceful in this small patch of old-growth forest: a rich world of trees and creatures, interactions and interdependencies that combine to create a functioning ecosystem. Soon the cloak of night will fall and, if I’m lucky, an animal may emerge from a hollow high up in my tree.

I am here with a group of volunteers led by researchers from the Australian National University under the guidance of my partner, ecologist Professor David Lindenmayer, who’s been studying this forest since 1983. David and I met twenty-eight years ago over a Leadbeater’s possum at Sir Colin MacKenzie Sanctuary near the township of Healesville, where I was working as a veterinarian. As I stepped into the sanctuary vet hospital that morning, a dark-haired man with kind brown eyes smiled up at me. Not long after that, we began a relationship, and since then our lives have been enmeshed in the politics of native-forest logging, which are as complex and layered as the forest itself.

Already a subscriber? Sign in here

If you are an educator or student wishing to access content for study purposes please contact us at griffithreview@griffith.edu.au

Share article

About the author

Karen Viggers

Karen Viggers is a wildlife veterinarian who has worked with native animals in many remote parts of Australia. She is the award-winning, internationally bestselling...

More from this edition

Memorial park

FictionDANIEL SAT ON the damp earth between two buttress roots of the massive fig tree. They rose up beside him like the walls of...

Enduring change

EssayPUBLIC INQUIRIES AND their subsequent reports suffer chequered histories in Australia. Some disappear with nary a trace, while others go on to effect real and...

Manus Prison theory

In ConversationShortly after the release of No Friend but the Mountains: Writing From Manus Prison (Picador, 2018), both Behrouz Boochani and Omid Tofighian, author and...

Stay up to date with the latest, news, articles and special offers from Griffith Review.