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Where are you taking my trees?

The chainsaws had finished their day’s work. Through the silence I heard birds chirping; and the faint sad cry of a bird of paradise

Auna melo clearing forest

| Auna Melo Independent Blog

WEWAK - I looked down at my feet stuck in the red clay, then raised my head. Before me a machine was constructing a new road through the thick jungle.

I could see the shape of the mechanical caterpillar munching away the forest.

I took a step and slipped, quickly rebalanced and steadied on my feet.

The new road was slippery from continuous rain. From a distance, I heard the sound of a chainsaw cutting down the trees.

I followed the new road until I came to the caterpillar, it had consumed its fill of the forest and come to rest, its belly full.

The operator was an Asian man who shouted to me some words I didn’t understand. But I could tell he was angry.

He started waving his hands, motioning me to stay off the road. Just as I did, a big truck drove past, speeding towards the chainsaw.

Wanting to see what was happening I ran after the truck. The Asian man jumped out of the caterpillar yelling. He obviously wanted me to stop but I kept running.

I was nearly out of breath when I came to a clearing. So this is where the road led. From this point it looked like the whole forest had been cleared.

This space was a camp for the loggers. I could see logs upon logs piled mountain high. A big machine with two prongs was stacking the logs.

The truck came to a halt beside the log mountain. The prong machine picked up logs and loaded them on the truck.

Where do they take the trees, I asked - but no one was there to answer my question.

Boy walking newly cleared logging road  (Elodie Van Lierde)
Photograph by Elodie Van Lierde

I waited around and after about an hour, the driver jumped into his truck and drove back along the rough road.

I wanted to see where it was going but this time I couldn’t catch up.

It was then I spotted a good tree which I could climb. I was able to get near the top, which gave me a panoramic view of the valley. My eyes followed the winding road until it reached the river.

And there was the truck and a barge ready to load the logs and take them away.

I turned my focus to the logging camp, it seemed nobody was there.

But perched at the tree top and looking beyond the camp, I could hear the chainsaws and I could see trees falling, but I couldn’t hear the birds.

That part of the valley had been covered in rainforest. It had been a good hunting ground but now the trees were giving way to bare valley.

I sat there in the tree and lost in thought.

I watched the logs loaded on the barge and watched it move downstream to the meet the sea. I watched until my trees and the barge were out of sight.

As the sun was setting over the mountain range, with a heavy heart I climbed down the tree.

The place was growing dark and the chainsaws had finished their day’s work.

Through the silence, I heard birds chirping; then the faint sad cry of a bird of paradise.

If it was mourning the loss of its home, I must mourn too. After all, the forest is also my home.


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Desire Gralton

What a beautifully written yet heartbreaking story of loss. I'm afraid humans will only see the true value of forests when they are all gone, and then it will be too late to do anything about it.

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