Tasmanian forests won UN world heritage listing

A grand celebration is happening in Tasmania.

Conservation groups have fought for years for the protection of old-growth forests around the Tasmanian Wilderness. Finally, the UN World Heritage Committee  approved the extension of the state’s forest into its World Heritage List. About 170,000 hectares were added into the highly protected area.

The fight for the southern forests take over a decade until the UN’s decision on June 24. (Photo: Still Wild Still Threatened)

The decision was passed in a meeting in Phnom Penh, Cambodia June 24.  The 21-nation committee unanimously accepted the nomination. Committee members Germany, Malaysia, India, Serbia, Albania and Estonia all spoke in strong support of the extension, the Habitat Advocate notes.

Although an advisory body earlier recommended to refer the case back to Australia for more work on the extension’s cultural values, the nomination went ahead. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature had been making repeated recommendations in support of protecting these forests.

The announcement protects outstanding forests such as Styx, Weld and Upper Florentine Valleys and on the flanks of the Great Western Tiers, while the extension covers forests from Cockle Creek to Cradle Mountain. See map here.

The UN’s decision means thousands of hectares of contiguous tall eucalyptus wild forests, endangered species habitat, wild rivers and ancient karst systems have finally had their globally significant values recognised.

Tasmanian forest on fire. (Photo: HVEC)

Jenny Weber, campaigner of the Huon Valley Environment Centre’s said this is the first time HVEC has witnessed the protection of forests after 11 years of campaigning for the globally significant forests of the Weld, Middle Huon and wild forests in the Esperance and Far South. “We have achieved an awesome milestone here as an environmental NGO,” she notes.

“This is truly the people’s achievement. For decades people have struggled to protect these particular forests and finally we can say, despite shortsighted and wasteful governments, inept land resource management and failed efforts to undermine and marginalise conservationists, we did it!” Weber said.

Vica Bayley, spokesperson for The Wilderness Society (WS) also welcomes the decision and congratulates “each and every person who has participated in the campaign to see these areas protected over the decades of struggle and advocacy.”

Styx Valley, Tasmania (Photo: Supplied)

The eNGOs acknowledged the work of the Australian and Tasmanian Governments and the signatories to the Tasmanian Forest Agreement, Bayley said.

Dr Phill Pullinger of the WS also said the decision delivers a critical element of the Tasmanian Forest Agreement and a durable and tangible conservation outcome on the ground adding, “The support and follow through by all parties involved in the Forest Agreement has been very welcome and critical in the success of this nomination. It demonstrates the Agreement can work and is a viable way to protect forests.”

Tree Activists Miranda Gibson became an instant celebrity when she climbed a tree in December 2011 and vowed not to come down until the threatened forest is protected.

Miranda Gibson grabs media spotlight for her tree vigil. (Photo: Bob Brown)

Today, Gibson celebrates the victory.

“On December 14th 2011 I climbed to the top of a tree in a threatened forest and said I would stay until the forest was protected. That forest is now World Heritage. It is thanks to the support from people right around the world that the forest is still standing and is now protected.”

“For 14 months I watched over the forest every day with the hope that we, as a community, could defend those trees for future generations. Today, for that forest, we have achieved that” said Gibson.

Read more of Gibson’s statement here.

Blog Link: Asian Correspondent

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Against native forests’ logging and retailing

Here’s from the email inbox: The Last Stand announced its new anti-Ta Ann Group website to discourage Japanese clients from buying Tasmania’s plywood disputedly harvested from native old-growth forests.

The banner design of the new cyber campaign

Likewise, here from the website of Market for Change which posted the list of local retailers of Tasmania’s native forests.

Tasmanian native forests' local retailers

The activists’ group has drawn a map on the extent of forest destruction in Australia– in which some of Australia’s most unique and species-rich forest habitats are still being logged including:

  • Tasmania’s native and old growth forests including the Tarkine, Blue Tier, Styx, Weld, and Upper Florentine Valley areas
  • Victoria’s Central Highlands – identified as some of the most carbon-dense forests on earth and areas in East Gippsland
  • New South Wales’ highly biodiverse sub-tropical and temperate native forests in the state’s north-east and south-east coastal regions
  • Western Australia’s native forests in the southwest of the state have been named a global biodiversity ‘hotspot’ yet logging in the state’s endemic karri, jarrah, marri, tingle, and tuart  forests continue despite new threats from drought and disease.

It speculates that there are 1,287 forest-dwelling species accross Australia that are listed as vulnerable, threatened or endangered under the Australian Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act (EPBCA) 1999. They include:

  • The Tasmanian Wedge-Tailed eagle
  • Carnaby’s Black cockatoo of WA.
  • Victoria’s Leadbeater’s possum
  • The koala population of southern NSW.

These species are losing their homes

This campaign has hit the media big time, with the launch featured in the Australian – a rare event indeed!  It is also a hot topic in Tasmania with regular mentions in the local press.

Our online action is doing great, heading up to 1500 emails now, and crew in Hobart have maintained a strong visual presence, letterboxing key areas and, most recently with the Ta Ann

We are continuing to work with Markets for Change and the Huon Valley Environment Centre as well as heaps of other good folks, and have also appreciated the support of the most excellent peoples at DoGooder.

So spread the message to your friends to jump on board!

For the forests,

THE LAST STAND CREW