The United Nation’s World Heritage Committee has rejected the Australian government’s proposal to delist 74,000 hectares of Tasmanian forests. The government had requested that the committee delist the area as a protected site. Prime Minister Tony Abbott has been encouraging investments that would boost Tasmania’s economy with little regard for the environment
World heritage expert and Tasmanian representative, Alec Marr said: “The State Parties on the Committee have reaffirmed that these forests are World Heritage and will stay protected. The World Heritage Committee saw through the deception of the Australian Government’s efforts here, and the high quality science and professionalism of the advisory bodies was exemplary.”
“Today is vindication for every Australian, and people around the world, who love Tasmania’s forests and want to see them protected,” said Marr. “The World Heritage Committee has today upheld the integrity of the convention and Australia needs to respect its obligations to the convention.”
Jenny Weber from the Bob Brown Foundation said that the decision means that large areas of pristine forests will remain listed as World Heritage.
“These forests are of outstanding universal value, with ecological importance, vast tracts of pristine tall wet eucalypts, old growth forests and serving as home to many endangered species,” said Weber.
“The Australian Government cannot be trusted when it comes to Australia’s environment, and in particular Tasmania’s forests,” she said. “When Australia signed up for World Heritage protection, it was supposed to be a permanent commitment. As stewards of these globally significant sites, they have a long term responsibility to protect them. The Australian Government’s failed attempt to remove these World Heritage forests was driven by politics and ideology, and all it has done is damage Australia’s international reputation.”
“This is a great relief for the wild forests of the Great Western Tiers, Butlers Gorge and the Upper Florentine valley,” said Dr Phill Pullinger from Environment Tasmania. “However, much of Tasmania’s natural heritage remains at risk, with the Tasmanian government currently still planning to designate vast areas of planned forest reserves in Tasmania, in the Tarkine Wilderness, Blue Tier and Bruny Island, as logging zones.”
“This decision sends a clear message to the Tasmanian Government that the international community holds Tasmania’s forests in the highest regard, and it is a message that we hope the Tasmanian Government listens to, by delivering on the remaining 400,000 hectares of agreed forest reserves,” he concluded.