Mountain ashed

Environmental crime in the forest

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  • 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.

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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...

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