Tree sitting

Tree sitting is a form of environmentalist civil disobedience in which a protester sits in a tree, usually on a small platform built for the purpose, to protect it from being cut down (speculating that loggers will not endanger human lives by cutting an occupied tree). Supporters usually provide the tree sitters with food and other necessary supplies.


Tree sitters have successfully prevented logging of ancient old growth forests for months at a time, and in some instances have convinced logging companies not to cut trees in some areas. Sometimes, tree sitting is used as a long-term resistance strategy, with activists occupying trees for months or years at a time. On the other hand, tree sitting is often used as a stalling tactic, to prevent the cutting of trees while lawyers fight in the courts to secure the long-term victories.

When tree sitting occurs on private land, it is trespassing. Sometimes logging companies will hire tree climbers to remove trespassers sitting in trees. Although it is the companies' legal right to do so[citation needed], some treesitters[who?] are suing Pacific Lumber to challenge this practice. Most tree sitting in California occurs on private land. In Oregon, where there are more logging projects on public land (National Forests and BLM lands), treesitting is usually not trespassing but treesitters can be fined for violating closure orders or camping limits, or for erecting illegal structures.

[edit] Extractions

Tree-sitters in trees claimed by Pacific Lumber in Humboldt County have been subject to forced removal by hired tree-sit extractors. The practice started with a single extractor in the late 90–s but in 2003 Pacific Lumber hired teams of climbers to remove dozens of tree-sitters, particularly in the Freshwater area East of Eureka, California.

The extractors are not actually deputized but police often show up to assist extractors and arrest tree-sitters. On March 17, 2003, more than 30 police arrived and enforced an illegal road closure of a public road to assist in the removal of two long-time tree-sitters from old-growth redwoods.

Most of the extractions in Northern California are done under the leadership of Eric Schatz of Schatz Tree Service, a well known professional arborist. Schatz testified in court that he has removed 42 tree-sitters from trees.

[edit] List of tree sits

The tree-sitters' camp in Berkeley, California protesting the planned removal of coastal live oaks as of 2008-07-08. The protesters were in the trees from 2006-12-02 to 2008-09-09, making it the longest running urban tree-sit in history.

Some of the more notable tree sittings include:

  • Tree sitting in 1978 (the first tree sitting action) led to the protection of what is now the Pureora Forest Park in New Zealand.[1]
  • Mikal Jakubal was the first American tree sitter. On May 20, 1985 he ascended a Douglas Fir in an area of the Middle Santiam region of Willamette National Forest that was in the process of being clearcut. While short-lived, his tree sitting action inspired a group tree sitting event by Earth First! activists that lasted from June 23 to July 20, 1985, when two Linn County, Oregon sheriff's deputies wrestled Marylander Ron Huber from his tree after a day-long stand-off.
  • Julia Butterfly Hill, an activist in Humboldt County, California became known for her 738 day sit (from December 10, 1997 until December 18, 1999) in a 180-foot (55 m), 600-year-old Coast Redwood tree she named Luna. Eventually, Hill and other activists raised $50,000 to spare her tree and a 200-foot (61 m) buffer around it, something which some activists considered an unacceptable compromise.
  • In 2002, two US environmental activists involved in tree-sitting protests died in separate accidents.[3][4]
  • In 2004, at least six tree sits were erected in Tuart trees at Ludlow Tuart Forest near Busselton in South Western, Western Australia.[5]
  • In 2006, two sits were built in Jarrah (Eucalyptus) trees at "Arcadia" Jarrah Forest near Collie in South Western, Western Australia. Two activists were removed and arrested but one had his charges dropped and the other went to court and was acquitted.[6]
  • In 2006, following a successful protest lasting over one year, tree sitters in Cathedral Grove (also known as MacMillan Provincial Park), British Columbia, halted the removal of a number of old growth Douglas Fir trees which were scheduled to be to taken down in an attempt to calm traffic and improve the parking facilities.
  • In May 2006, protesters at Titnore Wood began a tree-sitting campaign against a major urban extension to the town of Worthing in West Sussex. Around 25 protesters created tree-houses and a network of tunnels. In March 2010, after nearly four years of tree-sitting, the local council voted unanimously to turn down the application for development.[7]
  • In 2006, 2007, and 2008, protesters in Berkeley, California sat in coast live oak trees to prevent the construction of a new sports facility by the University of California, Berkeley. On September 5, 2008, the University began logging the grove, after winning court agreement. Four days later, after a little more than 21 months, the final four tree sitters surrendered to authorities, ending the longest running urban tree-sit in history.[8]
  • In 2007, protesters of the University of California Santa Cruz's Long Range Development Plan set up a tree sit, in red wood trees, on the proposed site of a biomedical research facility.
  • In 2008, a tree sit was constructed in College Grove (remnant bushland), Bunbury, Western Australia and was removed after being occupied for three months. Another was promptly constructed nearby in the next stage that was threatened by housing development; it included a functional trampoline.[9]
  • In 2009, there are ongoing tree-sits in Humboldt County, Ca. to prevent logging of 100+ year old redwoods by Green Diamond (formerly known as Simpson). One of the tree-villages is defending the territory of an active Spotted Owl mating pair.[10]
  • In 2010, One of the tree-villages in Humboldt County,Ca. remains and has grown to include over 30 trees that are tied together with tyrolean traverses. Though Earth First! Humboldt will not say exactly how many people or sits are up there, they do say there is a crew of tree-dwellers. The Earth First!ers withdrew from the village bordering the suburbs in order to strengthen their defense of the older and more secluded of the two groves where many more wildlife species find habitat and refuge.

[edit] Tree villages

A view of the Fall Creek village showing arial walkway

A tree village is an extension of the tree sit/tree house protest, involving several more tree houses.

The Fall Creek/Red Cloud Thunder Tree-Village was a long running example. It was a 6-year occupation of a small timber sale in the Willamette National Forest at Fall Creek Oregon US which ran from February 1998 to November 2003. It comprised seven houses of up to 5 occupants each tied together with rope 'traverses' 200 feet (61 m) high and up to 125 feet (38 m) between 'platforms'. This tree village was designed to be totally self sufficient with composting toilets, solar/wind power, communications, cargo lines between ground and other sits, individual rappel lines and hydroponic sprout farms. An estimated 1000 activists occupied the trees at various times. The forest occupied during the Fall Creek campaign remains uncut to this day.

Winberry Tree Village in the Willamette National Forest was another long-term occupation undertaken by Cascadian tree-sitters. The village consisted of two treehouses (160 feet high and 175 feet (53 m) high) and one suspension structure hung between trees. The Winberry village was occupied for 5 years. One tree house was two story, situated in a huge Western Red-Cedar tree. It featured a bottom story built from branches in the manner of a bird's nest as well as a running water system.

The Nanning Creek treesit ("Bonanza") is centered around Spooner, a 290-foot (88 m) Redwood with a near 40-foot (12 m) circumference, one of the oldest unprotected trees remaining in the area. This is also a village setup. Nanning Creek is located in the hills overlooking the town of Scotia, America's last company-owned town and the site of Pacific Lumber's headquarters. The area was long protected as a Marbled Murrelet nesting habitat, but recent changes in environmental law keep loggers out only for the nesting season.

"Fern Gully" is located south of Arcata, California, and north of the Nanning Creek sit. It is one of the few remaining tracts of old-growth in the Freshwater area. Fern Gully was started as a "Pirate" sit, unconnected at first from any organizations such as Earth First!. By 2005, it had 22 trees tied together for transarboreal travel. The village was equipped with a raincatch system that transported water 40 feet (12 m) down to a running tap at the platform, as well as a solar panel at 207 feet (63 m) in a tree named Watsi. Around that time it was raided by Pacific Lumber contracted climbers. They did not extract a single person, instead cutting out unoccupied traverses, platforms and dreamcatchers. This was a major blow to the village, but the sit continues, and the area remains uncut.

"Upper Village" was a set of 3 redwoods, Jerry, Everstine/Diversity (a double trunk tree) and Anastasia. Jerry was one of Humboldt County's most famous redwoods. A woman named Jeny Card (aka "Remedy") stayed without touching ground for 361 days, and later a young man named Willow did the same for over 18 months. Amy Gershman (aka "Wren") stayed in Everstine for almost ten months, and was later extracted, arrested, and jailed. She was later released on bail and her case ended in a hung jury. Upper Village appeared on Da Ali G Show, and Willow was interviewed from the platform of Jerry by Tom Greene, who was doing a segment for The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. No other tree has the extraction history of Jerry. Activists were forcibly removed from the tree on three separate occasions between March 17, 2003 and June 17, 2003. Each time, the tree-sit platforms were destroyed by climbers, but immediately replaced by activists. The Timber Harvest Plan for Upper Village expired in 2005, and friends of the trees removed the platforms and traverses. These trees are located directly alongside Greenwood Heights road in Freshwater, California.

The "Ludlow" tree village consisted of three basic sits, one large traditional Western Australian sit and two new sits that were two levels and three levels consecutively; each allowed the sitter a separate area for sleeping and relaxing and one for storage, cooking and other activities; one featured a "sun-deck" for outdoor living. The Ludlow Tuart Forest was targeted, by the Cable Sands mineral sands mining company, for Titanium Dioxide, for products such as white paint and toothpaste to fortify the coating of depleted Uranium weapons. One person remained in one of the sits for 29 days, without leaving the tree once. The sits were removed but the concept has been used several times since.

Current EF! tree sits in California (Spring 2010): A tree village is ongoing in the Ryan Creek watershed next to Eureka, California. These tree-sits are defending a large area of Redwoods with a crew of people. More trees are being added to the rope networks all the time. This is to resist clear-cutting and development plans by the Green Diamond Resource Company. The Earth First! Humboldt collective is organizing a campaign to expose and obstruct Green Diamonds destructive logging of the Redwood forest. The company owns around 430,000 acres (1,700 km2) of Redwoods in Humboldt and Del Norte counties making them the biggest single landowner of Redwood forest. EF! Humboldt website

[edit] Tree houses

In the United Kingdom permanent tree houses are common. One treehouse, BattleStar Galactica at the Manchester International Airport, held 12 people.[11] Permanent tree-houses can be occupied for a year or more. They often have lock-on points for protesters to chain themselves to during evictions. Tree houses have also been used at Newbury bypass.

[edit] See also

[edit] References

  1. ^ Copyright NZ Native Forests Restoration Trust. "NZ Native Forests Restoration Trust :: Our history". Retrieved 2009-11-09. 
  2. ^ "When Helicopters Attack: A Near Accident Leads To Coverup | Center for Media and Democracy". Retrieved 2009-11-09. 
  3. ^ "A new fight for old growth". Retrieved 2009-11-09. 
  4. ^ [1][dead link]
  5. ^ "Perth Independent Media Centre". 2009-09-10. Retrieved 2009-11-09. 
  6. ^ "Perth Independent Media Centre". Retrieved 2009-11-09. 
  7. ^ "Plans for homes next to Worthing's Titnore Woods voted down". BBC News. 16 March 2010. Retrieved 17 March 2010. 
  8. ^ Trott, Ashley (2008-06-19). "Tree-Sitters' Supplies Removed From Oaks by University-Hired Arborists". The Daily Californian (Berkeley, California: Independent Berkeley Students Publishing Company, Inc.). Retrieved 2008-06-20 
  9. ^ by Jerome. "Perth Independent Media Centre". Retrieved 2009-11-09. 
  10. ^ "Earth First! Humboldt". Retrieved 2009-11-09. 
  11. ^ "Life on the Battle Star (Do or Die)". Retrieved 2009-11-09. 

[edit] External links

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