Leading Article: Out of her tree

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The Independent Culture
TOES MAY curl in embarrassment and lips may sneer at the New-Age gibberish uttered by the tree-hugging "Butterfly" of California, a 25- year-old woman who came down from a giant redwood after two years.

"I just kept feeling there was something calling me to the forest," she told a news conference at the weekend.

She spent a lot of time in her eight-by-eight-foot tree house thinking "how am I going to take this experience with me and remain centred in love?" But behind this lies the hard reality of environmental idealism: Ms Butterfly, aka Julia Hill, and her supporters, a trust called Sanctuary Forest, have bought the tree and a 200ft buffer zone for $50,000 from Pacific Lumber.

The logging company was forced to do the deal in order to avoid further public relations damage. Ms Butterfly said: "There's something more than a profit, and that's life." But beneath the soft-top spiritualism, green politics only works if it can put a price on preserving the environment.