Year 7 Student Jonah has recently been shortlisted in the Whitlam’s Institute “What matters” competition. The competition is inspired by Gough Whitlam’s commitment to involving young people in shaping Australia’s future. Students across Years 5 – 12 had to respond to the question “What matters?” and produce a piece of fiction, non-fiction or poetry.
This year, 4991 entries were received from 691 schools Australia wide. Jonah chose to focus on global issues that he felt passionate about, specifically illegal logging. You can read his entry “The Trespassers” below.
By Jonah Graham
In the dead of the night, deep in an ancient forest that stretched as far as the eye could see, where the dingoes hunted and their prey hid, the symphony of nocturnal creatures was interrupted by a cacophony of destruction, as towering giants that had stood for centuries began to shudder and collapse.
The source of this disturbance lay hidden amongst the dense foliage, where moonlight revealed the glint of massive, metal beasts. Their claws gnashed and roared as they ripped through the bark, hungry for the precious timber they craved. The ground trembled with the vibrations of their insatiable appetite, and the air was heavy with the scent of fresh sap and the relentless drone of their engines.
Shadowy figures operated these mechanical monsters, their faces masked by the darkness and obscured by the sweat that beaded on their brows. Their eyes, cold and apathetic, betrayed no remorse for the devastation they unleashed. They moved with practiced efficiency, guiding the destructive machines through the undergrowth, systematically dismantling the once-verdant landscape as they had done many times before.
Glimpses of bright plumage and startled calls signalled the desperate flight of the forest’s avian inhabitants, driven from their homes by the unyielding advance of the intruders. The forest floor, once a rich tapestry of beautiful plants and teeming with life, was now marred by gouges and scars, a testament to the invader’s merciless progress.
As the metallic beasts trudged deeper into the heart of the forest, the stifling humidity clung to the men like a second skin. The air was thick with the buzzing of alarmed insects, their songs joining the chorus of destruction. An oppressive heat bore down on the invaders, an unspoken reminder that they were far from the familiar comforts of their own world.
“As the metallic beasts trudged deeper into the heart of the forest, the stifling humidity clung to the men like a second skin.“
And yet, they pressed on, driven by a hunger for profit and a disregard for the delicate balance of this vibrant, tropical ecosystem. With every fallen tree, every shattered branch, and every upturned root, they left behind a trail of destruction, a testimony of man’s insatiable greed.
For hours they continued, ravaging the precious landscape that lay around them, paying no heed to the myriad of deaths they caused. Animals desperately tried to escape the once peaceful place they had called home for many millennia. Many failed. Finally, after what seemed like days, the trespassers stopped, having satisfied their colossal hunger. Soon they would come back again though, and again, a never-ending cycle that no matter how hard they tried, the animals could not stop.
Unbeknownst to them, the forest held its breath, silently mourning the loss of its children.
The heartbreaking plunder and trade of precious, illegal timber know no bounds, touching even the shores of our beloved Australia. Despite efforts by governments and conservation organizations to combat deforestation, illegal logging activities persist due to a combination of factors, such as weak law enforcement, corruption, and a high global demand for timber.
Illegal logging contributes to the loss of biodiversity, climate change, and the displacement of indigenous communities that depend on the forest for their livelihoods. Although efforts to curb illegal logging and promote sustainable forest management have made progress in some areas, it remains a complex issue.