Site icon Conservation news

World Heritage Committee takes ten minutes to reject Australia’s bid to strip forests of protection

The UNESCO World Heritage Committee today unanimously rejected a controversial proposal by the Australian government to strip 74,000 hectares of temperate rainforest from a World Heritage Site in Tasmania. In an embarrassing setback for the Australia government, it took the committee less than ten minutes to unanimously reject the proposal, according to the Guardian.

The 74,000 hectares in question were a part of a so-called “peace deal” between environmentalists and loggers in Tasmania, which added 170,000 hectares to an existing World Heritage site. The government contended that much of the forest was degraded, yet experts disagreed. In fact, the IUCN found that 85 percent of the 74,000 hectares was natural forest and nearly half of the whole was old-growth forest. The IUCN recommended that the committee reject the proposal.

“Today is vindication for every Australian, and people around the world, who love Tasmania’s forests and want to see them protected,” said World Heritage expert Alec Marr in response to the decision. “The World Heritage Committee has today upheld the integrity of the Convention and Australia needs to respect its obligations to the Convention.”

The former leader of Australia Green party, Bob Brown, blasted the current government for its attempt to shrink the World Heritage Site.

“[Prime Minister] Tony Abbott lied about the forests being degraded. That lie has been rejected at international level. It is a diplomatic fiasco for the Prime Minister and Australia. However, it is a win for global diplomatic propriety,” Brown said in a statement adding, “This is the lowest point in the history of Australian environmental diplomacy. Abbott’s failed mission has sullied the nation’s great history of upholding the World Heritage Convention.”

Environmentalists and conservationists have decried a number of proposals put forward by the Abbott government, including a controversial shark cull, an attempt to kill the country’s carbon tax, a moratorium on new protected areas, and dumping coal dredge in the Great Barrier Reef.

Tiger quolls (Dasyurus maculatus) are found in the region's forests. These are the longest carnivorous marsupials on the planet and are listed as Near Threatened by the IUCN Red List. Photo by: Joshua Cunningham.

Tiger quolls (Dasyurus maculatus) are found in the region’s forests. These are the longest carnivorous marsupials on the planet and are listed as Near Threatened by the IUCN Red List. Photo by: Joshua Cunningham/Creative Commons 2.0.

Related articles

Australia sees rise in greenwashing front groups

(06/13/2014) Australia is seeing a rise in groups that purport to champion environmental causes but are actually actively undermining them as front organizations for industrial interests, argues an op-ed published in The Ecologist.

Plan to shrink World Heritage forest in Tasmania ‘clearly inappropriate,’ says IUCN

(05/27/2014) The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has roundly criticized Australia’s proposal to remove 74,000 hectares of temperate rainforest from the World Heritage Committee. In a report to the global organization, the IUCN argues that the removal of these forests would “impact negatively” on the site’s overall value.

Australians rally to save World Heritage Site from chopping block

(04/28/2014) Yesterday, nearly 2,000 people held a rally to show support for a Tasmanian forest that the Australian government wants stripped of its UNESCO World Heritage Sites and logged.

Australia proposes banning environmental boycotts

(04/07/2014) What do you do when a company is repeatedly caught trashing the environment and refuses to change its ways? Boycott! Activists and campaigners often use boycotting a company’s products when other methods have failed, yet in Australia such boycotts could soon become illegal.

Scientists blast Australian leader’s proposed ban on parks

(03/05/2014) A group of prominent scientists have blasted Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s pledge to oppose the creation of any new protected areas in Australia. The Alliance of Leading Environmental Researchers and Thinkers or ALERT, a coalition of conservation scientists, said Abbott is sending the wrong message to the world in promoting industrial logging over protection of the country’s native forests.

Australia proposes removing old-growth forests from World Heritage Site

(02/03/2014) 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.

Exit mobile version