Toward the end of The Giants, a documentary film on the life of Bob Brown, Canadian scientist and activist David Suzuki poses a question that he leaves hanging in the breeze.
“Can you imagine Australia without Bob Brown?”
It’s a good question. Certainly, Bob’s home state of Tasmania would today look dramatically different without him. Much of its wilderness – forests, rivers, oceans, wildlife – would no longer be wild, that’s for sure.
The film’s creators have used the towering mountain ash tree, Eucalyptus regnans, as a symbol of Brown’s status as a leader in conservation. They open the film with a tracking shot moving up the trunk of a Styx Valley mountain ash that stretches skyward for the opening minute. But as much as these giants dominate the forest, they create other worlds below their branches. These delicate ecosystems are shaded, sheltered, fed and bound together by the tree. And as forest campaigners will tell you, if you fell one of these giants, these smaller ecosystems are left exposed and vulnerable and the forest is changed forever.