Last year, after decades of fighting, environmentalists and the forestry industry reached a landmark agreement that added 170,000 hectares of old-growth forest in Tasmania as a part of a World Heritage Site. But less than a year later and that so-called peace agreement is in danger of unraveling. The new Australian government, under Prime Minister Tony Abbott, is going ahead with removing 74,000 hectares (43 percent) from the World Heritage site.
Australia’s Environment Minister, Greg Hunt, contends that the 117 areas in question are “degraded or logged” and were added to the agreement “against the wishes of local community.”
However, others say that at least some of the forests in question have high conservation value, including unlogged temperate rainforest.
“Some of it is some of the most outstanding forests in the country, if not in the planet,” Peter Hitchcock a consultant on World Heritage listing told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC). “So the great majority of the area that is being proposed to be removed from the World Heritage Area is in fact unlogged forest, and much of it with important conservation values.”
Protest camp against logging in the Upper Florentine Valley. Photo by: J.J. Harrison/Creative Commons 3.0.
In addition, a number of forestry companies have stated they wouldn’t want to log in the disputed areas. Evan Rolley, the Executive Director of forestry company Ta Ann, said it would not accept wood outside of the landmark peace agreement.
Vica Bayley, Tasmania campaign manager for the Wilderness Society, told the Guardian that the government’s proposal “is a purely political stunt aimed at tearing up the goodwill and the good progress that’s been made between hostile adversaries in the forestry debate.”
Australia’s new government under the Liberal/National Coalition has been viewed as making a number of controversial environmental decisions since it took over last year from abolishing the country’s nascent carbon tax to culling large sharks to dumping dredged soil from a massive coal mine in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.
The Tasmania forest proposal will be evaluated by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee in June.
(06/25/2013) Almost 200,000 hectares of Tasmania’s old growth forest have been world heritage listed, bringing hope that a three-decade fight between environmentalists, politicians and loggers is over. The World Heritage Committee has extended the heritage listed boundary of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area by more than 170,000 hectares after accepting a proposal from the Australian government which will give the areas the highest level of environmental protection in the world.
(05/15/2011) Some of Australia’s most popular stores are driving the destruction of native forests, according to a report by a new environmental group Markets for Change (MFC). Furniture, building materials, and paper products were found to be coming at the expense of native forests in Australia and being sold by over 30 businesses in the country, such as Freedom Furniture, Bunnings, Officeworks, Staples, Target, Coles, and Woolsworths.
(09/10/2010) Gunns Limited, an Australian logging company, that has been engaged in a long-running battle with environmentalists over the firm’s cutting of old-growth forests on Tasmania, conceded defeat Thursday, reports the Environment News Service.
(07/27/2009) A forest conservation project in Tasmania has become Australia’s first Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD) project to meet Climate, Community and Biodiversity Standards.