World"s Tallest Living Christmas Tree Lights Up Styx Forest

HOBART, Tasmania, Australia,

December 24, 2003 (ENS) - Environmentalists in Tasmania?s ancient Styx Valley have switched on the lights of the world?s tallest Christmas tree, a giant 84 meter Eucalpytus regnans, watched by occupants of the Global Rescue Station who are protecting it from logging.

The Wilderness Society and Greenpeace have transformed the giant tree into what they call "a beacon of hope for the Styx forest" by adorning the giant tree with over 3,000 colored lights and tinsel. Like others in the Styx, the tree is scheduled to be logged in the coming year.

?This ancient tree has seen over 400 Christmases in its long lifetime,? said Wilderness Society Campaigner Geoff Law.

?It is a great pity that a living relic such as this is could be clearfelled, ground into woodchips and sent to paper companies in Japan,? he said.

Carol singers gathered around the base of the tree to sing Christmas favorites, and Father Christmas descended the tree on ropes to deliver presents to the people gathered below.


Singer-songwriter John Butler high in the Styx giant eucalyptus regnans on the tree-sitters platform (Photo courtesy Greenpeace Australia)

The activists have been living in the world?s tallest tree sit since November 12. Since the launch, the Styx weblog at has attracted worldwide attention in countries such as Mexico, Japan, South Africa, the United States, and Italy.

More than 5,000 cyberaction emails have been sent to buyers from over 91 countries, urging them not to source woodchips from Tasmanian ancient forest.

Japanese activist Sakyo Noda said he hoped the Japanese buyers of Tasmanian woodchips would recognize the magnificence of the Styx trees and their importance in the forest ecosystem.

?I want to show Mitshubishi, Oji and Nippon, the Japanese buyers of Styx woodchips the beauty of this ancient forest, which is home to rare and endangered species, and to let them know that they they can help stop the destruction.

?They can choose to source their woodchips from sustainably managed plantations instead of buying from destructive logging company Gunns Ltd,? he said.

Gunns Ltd is a Tasmanian woodchip company, which exports over five million green tons of native forest woodchips each year, mostly to Japan.

Gunns is both logging and buying timber from ancient forests in Tasmania, and continues to do so despite the persistent opposition of Australia"s enviornmental groups and 70 percent of the Tasmanian people. Gunns has refused all calls from civil society in Australia to stop sourcing timber from ancient forests.

Gunns defends its forest operations, which first obtained ISO 14001 certification in December 1998, the first in Australia to obtain this certification. All forest resources used by the Gunns are sourced from areas designated as multiple use forests under the Tasmania Regional Forest Agreement, the company says.