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Ghosts of Tassie past?

massive Tassie tree

The Abbott Government must drop its reckless request to axe the new Tasmanian World Heritage forests before it makes Australia an international laughing stock and turns the tourists away, says Vica Bayley from the Wilderness Society.

Credit: Rob Blakers

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by Wilderness Society Tasmania Campaign Manager, Vica Bayley

During my time at the Wilderness Society, I have been able to visit some amazing places within Australia and across the world. However as I am a proud Tasmanian, the forests have always held a special place in my heart.

World Heritage recognises the most awesome places on Earth – the Great Barrier Reef, the Great Wall of China, the Sydney Opera House, the Grand Canyon, the Eiffel Tower and rightly Tasmania’s magnificent forests. These destinations drive billion-dollar tourism industries, countries campaign for years, decades even, just to get nominated to the World Heritage list.

The Tasmania Wilderness World Heritage Area was first recognised in 1982 and was extended just last year with the long-overdue addition of a connected band of tall, wet eucalypt forest that runs up its eastern and northern boundary. These forests include centuries-old trees that stand almost 100 metres tall, which would tower above the Sydney Harbour Bridge pylons.

Australia has a legal and moral obligation to preserve its World Heritage sites for all humanity for all time. But the Abbott Government has asked the World Heritage Committee to delist these majestic forests so they can be logged.

Not even the logging industry wants these forests logged as it will hurt its reputation and markets, and it supported the extension of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area. There are plenty of other forests open for logging in Tasmania.

Abbott claims these the new World Heritage forest have been trashed but the vast majority – 90 per cent is pristine forest that has never been logged, and the remaining recovering forest is integral to the property’s integrity, connectivity and management.

Much of the forest that has been logged is recovering well from logging that occurred decades ago. Even the Government’s own advice said as much.

The World Heritage Committee’s advisory body, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, has recommended the request be knocked back after comprehensively confirming the forests’ World Heritage values.

But just so the World Heritage Committee gets the message, thousands are expected to attend a rally in Hobart on Saturday to show support for Tasmania’s World Heritage forests.

People unable to attend the rallies can show their support online at: www.wilderness.org.au/myworldheritage

Logging World Heritage forests is as reckless as destroying any other World Heritage site, like using the Grand Canyon as a garbage dump, knocking down the Opera House for harbourside apartments or selling the Eiffel Tower for scrap.

The Government’s reckless action threatens Australia’s billion-dollar tourism industry that relies on our international reputation for amazing unspoilt landscapes, clear skies, fresh air and clean waters. If Tasmania’s World Heritage forests aren’t safe, neither are our other iconic World Heritage sites, such as the Great Barrier Reef, the Daintree rainforest, Kakadu and the Blue Mountains.

This is the first time a developed nation has asked to delist a World Heritage property when its heritage values are well and truly still intact.

This brings international shame to Australia, threaten jobs in the forestry industry and Tasmania's fragile timber markets, as well as destroy areas of globally significant forest.

The Abbott Government must drop its reckless request to axe the new Tasmanian World Heritage forests before it makes Australia an international laughing stock and turns the tourists away.

Details for the rally this weekend:
Hobart rally Saturday June 14 Parliament Lawns, noon
Speakers include: 2012 Young Tasmanian of the Year and Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary owner, University of Tasmania Distinguished Professor Jamie Kirkpatrick, Southern Beekeepers Association president Peter Norris and Tasmanian Aboriginal Rodney Dillon.

People unable to attend the rallies can show their support online at: www.wilderness.org.au/myworldheritage