I love travelling – it gives me a new information, new experiences and new perspectives. Last week in Tasmania, I learned the story of the Huon Pine and drew an unlikely parallel to current events – human rights.
The Huon pine is one of the slowest growing trees in the world. Found only in Tassie, the conifer is believed to be Australia’s longest lived species with some trees identified as over 2000 years old. It takes approximately 1000 years for the tree to reach 30 m with a 1 m diameter – that is less than one inch a year! For comparison, the Southern Live Oak grows at 13-24 inches per year until it reaches maturity.
The wood of a Huon pine is insect and water resistant – making it an excellent ship-building timber and in recent years used for a much less illustrious purpose of woodchips. In just 150 years, the ancient forests of Huon pine suffered considerable damage until conservationists stepped in. The tree is now heavily protected and usage of the wood closely licensed. In fact, most Huon pine available today was harvested from the forest floor or riverbed!
I was expecting a towering giant of a tree when I visited the Tahune Air Walk, instead I found a 3 foot “sampling” that looked more like a cypress shrub that a 15-20 year old tree. I was amazed, it actually took a few minutes to double and triple check that we had the right tree identified! Without a knowledgeable guide and a few sign posts, I would have walked right past it.
So what does this have to do with human rights? Well, human rights – like these trees – take years and years and years to evolve. Progress can be slow and is shaped by our local and global culture. If not carefully minded, we can wipe out generations of progress in the blink of an eye. Rights we assume will always be protected may one day be extinct without proper rigor and vigilance.
In today’s political climate, the conservation of human rights is my top priority. I am resolute in my belief that human rights cannot be taken for granted and that the diminishment of anyone’s human rights is a threat to everyone. I am committed to making sure the freedoms I enjoy are safeguarded for generations to come.
Ancient forests. Unique species. Inalienable rights. The swing of an ax. The stroke of a pen.
What are you preserving for the next generation?