The opening image of misting canopies seemed strangely familiar and unfamiliar.
Having grown up in Perth, the native Jarrah forests of the South West are so recognisable. The trips spent ‘down south’; drifting along bending roads, camping beneath the noise of creaking eucalypts – these are sights and sounds which feel constitutional to my childhood and my home. Yet at moments, while watching this film, I was unsure if what I was looking at was the Margaret River region, or some place like the Amazon.
Cut to the sound of bulldozers dragging splintering logs along dirt. The smoking mass of destruction which could, once again, almost be images of a far away Amazonian land – hardly the ‘down south’ I am familiar with.
Cry of the Forests is a call to action, made by independent East Fremantle filmmaker Jane Hammond, in partnership with the WA Forest Alliance. Before watching this film, I had no idea of the scale of deforestation in the South West – happening at a rate of ten football fields each day.
Cry of the Forests shows how plainly illogical it is to allow the deforestation of native trees. The documentary touches on the economic disservice we do ourselves by allowing this industry to continue. By subsidising such an industry, we bypass potential avenues such as sustainable tree plantations, beekeeping, and eco-tourism. As the climate crisis materialises closer to the forefront of social consciousness, the destruction of ancient carbon sinks could not come at any worse a time.
What this film captures so well, however, are the unsung passions of those fighting to protect these native forests. The people working tirelessly to stand in the way of bulldozers are those who hear the machines from their back yards. The local community comes together to call out the wasteful destruction, but their numbers – at present – are too small.
Take, for example, the scene of bold, knitting grandmothers facing off against policeman and trucks. It is a strikingly helpless predicament; however, it is perfectly illustrative of the local community’s determination. Whilst a ‘move-on’ notice forcibly shuffles the individuals along, it feels inappropriate for this cause to be left solely to these community groups alone.
One of the greatest threats to these forests is a lack of awareness.
The reason this wasteful industry is allowed to continue is because so few people even know it is occurring. Whilst environmental atrocities do occur in exotic, far away places, it is vital to acknowledge this grassroots campaign within the South West region – our own backyard.
The animals and plants that live here can be found nowhere else in the world.
This movie amplifies what a critical time it is to think, and act, locally.
For more information about the film, or to get involved with the important work of the WA Forest Alliance, click here.
Added 29 July:
Words by Aideen Gallagher
Image courtesy of Cry of the Forests