Treesits: Finding Shelter in the Struggle for Wilderness

Tree sits are a way for environmental activists to protect forest. They do so by occupying tree perches in strategic places. Without doubt, the most famous tree sitter is Julia Butterfly Hill, who lived in her host, Luna, for a remarkable 738 days.

The way tree sits work is that people place themselves in an area where there is already logging activity, or where there is expected to be some in the near future. With people in the trees, logging activities such as tree falling or drilling and blasting for roadbuilding can’t be undertaken nearby without endangering the tree sitter’s life.

It’s a gutsy move and it doesn’t always work. Because it places people at the mercy of other people’s decisions, sometimes logging company employees take action that jeopardizes tree sitters’ safety. Also, sometimes tree sitters’ make mistakes that cost them their lives.

Due to their relatively temporary nature, tree sits are not usually treehouses, but they are rudimentary shelters that people call home for anywhere from hours to, in Julia’s case, years at a time. Because of Julia’s long-term residence, she actually did put together a treehouse. You can see a clip of it as she shares some tree wisdom with us.