From People Power Came Victory for the River
The Wilderness Society grew out of a defiance at the destruction of Lake Pedder in 1973 and a strong idea that wild places should be left alone. We promoted the concept of humility towards the living Earth that gave us life, and the right of all species and ecosystems to exist.
The clash with Tasmania’s dam builders, woodchippers and miners was obvious and we knew that large-scale tourism developments were coming next to make money at the expense of wildness.
So the huddle of 16 greenies in beanies by the fire in my little farmhouse at Liffey that wet, wintry last Saturday in June, 1976, had a mood of excitement as it agreed on Kevin Kiernan’s suggestion of the name the ‘The Tasmanian Wilderness Society’ and for the first meeting to be in August in Hobart. We set a $2 fee, put an ad in the paper, announced our first campaign to stop a concrete bridge across the Picton River for the loggers (we lost) and got ready for a long fight to save the Franklin River.
The ‘Tasmanian’ was dropped in 1984 but right from the start TWS was national and international in it’s thinking, with strong groups in mainland capitals and, at the height of the Franklin campaign, 30 other cities. From that burst of people power came victory for the river, its forests, wildlife and indigenous mystique.
Now TWS is one of the world’s great environmental organisations. I like its vigour and active defiance in an age when greenwash and ecofudge often lull people into doing nothing.
Recently I was in the Styx Valley where the tallest trees in the southern hemisphere face the woodchippers’ chainsaws. A pink robin was ‘clicking’ its pre-spring lovesong in the understory rain forest. If that bird and its offspring have a future, it is because TWS is mounting a huge defence of the Styx — not for profit or personal riches but for that original ideal that the last wild places must, for themselves and our own human spirit, be protected forever.
- Bob Brown
For more information, please contact:
Tasmanian Campaign Coordinator
email Geoff Law
work phone: (03) 6224 1550