“Let it shrivel up and die” What Lake Mac tree poisonings teach us about environmental activism

Post No. 9 '“Let it shrivel up and die” What Lake Mac tree poisonings teach us about environmental activism' was published on 31 August, 2021.

This post was guest written by my partner Xanthe Lamont.

Seven trees lining the shared pathway between Warners Bay and Speers Point have been vandalised in a “deliberate” and “callous” poisoning.

While this year has left everyone, including me, apathetic to the horrors of climate change, this news of seven (mostly mature age) trees being drilled and then poisoned in Lake Macquarie actually properly ruined my day. Climate change can feel like something we don’t have to properly comprehend every day, but the visceral image of these strong and mature living things being killed in this manner for such menial reasons has broken through to me and left me unsettled with this often playing in my mind.

Being informed of this singular event led me down the rabbit hole of looking into the deliberate removal or killing of trees in my local area of Newcastle. Unfortunately as I expected, there are a number of examples of this occurring just in the last year. Last October over seventy native trees were poisoned in a mass environmental vandalism event, and I had not heard any news of this until now.

This pattern of environmental vandalism is familiar territory and people deliberately killing trees because the hundreds of years old trees are ruining a view of a lake or to get some sick enjoyment out of it is a global trend that is not centre stage right now. It is hard to focus on the destruction of the environment on a smaller scale then what people are used to campaigning about from Adani to gas drilling. Poisoning trees take a back seat to carbon admissions, mass scale plastic pollution and the government’s refusal to do anything meaningful about it. The impact in your community people can make in the protection of local environments and the wildlife that calls it their home is often not recognised as the vital work that it is. The constant noise and news of all of the terrible things that mother nature has been enduring recently and how we as humans are going to suffer from the consequences of our actions is extremely overwhelming. But rather then feeling that despair and beginning to have a nihilistic approach, we can begin to understand that every little bit does count, and it does matter when people are found guilty of poisoning trees or the local area rezoning that affects over twenty species is blocked. Local action that focuses on what can feel like little issues is vital to our survival and the survival of the environment.

Often when we are younger and have only a little grasp of climate change and what this means for humanity as a whole, we boil it down to saving the trees, and as a full circle moment, saving the trees can be the most important thing we do as human beings. The last two years have been a lot but doing the basics of picking up your own rubbish and calling out bad behaviour when you see it are small things you can do for help the world around you, because to quote from the Lorax, unless someone like you cares an awful whole lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.