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Aviva Reed

For information about Aviva’s fantastic work, please click here to visit her website.

Article by Aviva Reed about her experience with the AELA Rights of Nature Tribunal 2016

Fostering an ecology of change

In October of 2016, Australian People took Australian Governments to court in the name of the natural world, to argue for the rights of nature and argue that ecocide has been – and continues to be – committed. 

The Australian government has a horrendous record of environmental destruction, as heard through the words of rivers, First Nations Peoples, scientists and citizens at the Tribunal. We heard about the fragmentation, amputation, theft and murder of four of our ecosystem families.

The four entities recognized, the four examples of ecocide were:

  • Mardoowarra/Fitzroy River (WA),
  • the Forests of Australia,
  • the Great Artesian Basin
  • the Atmospheric Commons/ Great Barrier Reef

The people request an ecology of change, towards respect, for each other, and all living beings on the planet, a synthesis of billions of years of wisdom and knowledge in the name of care and collaboration.

The people request justice, accountability and for the voices of the First Nations to be a governing force towards a future of caring, sharing and healing.

The people request a long time thinking, of the past, present and future.

The people request another way.

Study of Freshwater River Systems, Tarkine, Tasmania 2017, Watercolour of paper


At the Tribunal 2016, we heard from the more than humans, we listened to the wisdom of the First Nations, we witnessed the data of expert scientists and saw the insights of humans who have lived and shared the stories of the four cases. What the Tribunal did was provide another way. Through our change in discourse when talking about life on the planet, through the dissolution of hierarchical language and privileged existence over the more than human, by recognizing our intrinsic connection to everything, the Tribunal encourages an existence based on connection and respect. The trees listen, the rivers speak and the rocks breathe.                                                                    

As artist, scientist, educator and human, I seek to unravel perceived truths and invisible realities that have brought us to this place of degraded humanity and disrespect. Through studying time, scale, and stories of connection, my work explores  the ecological imagination. An ecological imagination places oneself into the complexity of becoming with everything, entwined and connected. In this way, our molecular memories are activated and our care for self expanded to include all life. Through these forms of engagement, agency is given to everything, and thus everything becomes a legal entity deserving of rights for evolutionary survival: the rocks, the rivers and the children.

Process notes from the Tribunal 2016 - The Forests vs. The State.