Greenies win for the world’s largest marine sanctuary

It does not happen quite often for the greenies to celebrate. But today, there is reason for euphoria and optimism as the Federal Government breaks the news of making Australia’s vast stretch of seas and oceans as a national reserve.

The whale shark, white shark, humpback whale, and other world’s largest fish inhabit the North-west and South-east regions. (Photo: Supplied)

Environment Minister Tony Burke said more than 2.3 million square kilometres of ocean environment will be declared as a national marine reserve networks– a historic win since the plan was incubated a decade ago. This plan will position Australian waters to be the world’s largest marine sanctuary.

Minister Burke will soon forward his recommendations to the Governor General. He said “Australia is a world leader when it comes to protecting our oceans, and so we should be, we’ve got responsibility for more of the ocean than almost any other country on Earth.”

The World Wildlife Foundation (WWF), a leading environmental advocacy group, likewise, said people’s power made this development possible with 450,000 made submissions to Minister Burke.

Elizabeth and Middleton Reefs in the Temperate East Network are home to the critically endangered east coast population of grey nurse shark and the vulnerable white shark. (Photo: Australian Government)

“We look forward to the Government bedding down final management arrangements for the new marine parks as soon as possible, so that all Australians can begin to enjoy the benefits that marine protection will deliver now and into the future,” WFF Marine Campaigner Jenita Enevoldsen said.

A June poll showed that 70 per cent of Australians supported the government’s marine reserves plan ‑ the most decision the government has made. This project started in early 2000’s under a series of comprehensive community consultations, deliberations and science-based region planning.

“These final lines on maps around our sea country cover and protect a wide range of important habitats including coral reefs, seagrass beds, sponge gardens and hundreds of threatened species of whales, sharks, dolphins, turtles, sea lions and sea dragons,” Enevoldsen said.

Giant Green Turtle in the Coral Sea on Queensland. (Photo: Supplied)

Giant Green Turtle in the Coral Sea on Queensland. (Photo: Supplied)

Australia’s oceans is the home to many of the world’s endangered marine animals including the Green Turtle, the Blue Whale, the Southern Right Whale, the Australian Sea Lion and the whale shark.

While it is a big win for conservationists, the marine sanctuary means commerical and industrial activities around the area will be limited, including recreation, commercial fishing, and gas exploration ventures.

However, the Government recognises that there will be impacts on some fishers and it will support those who are affected

A national marine reserve will include the vast stretch of the continent. (Photo: Australian Government)

New marine reserves have been proclaimed in five of Australia’s six large marine regions. The reserves in the South-east region were proclaimed in 2007.

Blog Link: Asian Correspondent

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Tarkine Wilderness begs Govt protection

What’s the fuss about Tarkine?

“Here, some of the tallest and oldest trees in the world are being logged for woodchips — irreplaceable virgin forests converted into toilet paper.” – The Green Left

Discover the hidden treasures of the Tarkine (Photo: Carol Haberie/Tarkine Wilderness of Tasmania)

This is one of the uncomfortable truths about the current state of the Tarkine, one of the last remaining pristine wilderness of Tasmania and claimed to be disturbed by logging and open cut mining operators.

Tarkine could be an unfamiliar destination to most intrepid travelers, but to those who know this place by heart, Tarkine can match the beauty and historical significance of iconic spots such as the Ayers Rock (Uluru), Sydney Opera House, or Bondi Beach.

The Tarkine is the largest wilderness in the north-west region of Tasmania sprawling over 477,000 hectares. It is dominated by pristine rainforests with dramatic view of wild rivers, deep gorges, and waterfalls. About 70 percent of the total area is rainforest, 90 percent of which is regarded as old-growth forest.

Arthur River rainforest in the Tarkine (Photo: Tarkine.org)

The Tarkine is considered by conservationists as one of world’s oldest rainforests. It hidden treasures contain relics from the ancient super-continent, Gondwanaland. It is home to more than 60 rare species. Unique animals include the Giant Freshwater Lobster – the world’s largest freshwater crustacean; the Tasmanian Wedge Tailed Eagle – Australia’s largest Eagle; and the famous Tasmanian Devil.

However, environmental groups lament its lack of government protection. Increased commercial activities in area are claimed have posed a serious threat to various species, some of which are now considered endangered.

Green groups believe Tarkine should be given equal importance like other great Australian landmarks. As such, Tarkine has been pushed for listing in the World Heritage Site. But its listing faces no paved road – hampered by the Government’s dilemma between conservation and economic pursuits.

The fact is both the Federal and State governments do not think Tarkine should be listed.

The Tasmanian Devil is one of the species under threat.

The Federal Government said it has enough protection while the Tasmanian State Government said logging and mining will create and sustain jobs and livelihood.

Early on, The Mercury reported the State Government supports mining ahead of the environment in a submission to the Federal Government on whether the Tarkine Wilderness Area should be protected by national heritage laws.

The report said Energy and Resources Minister Bryan Green admitted the State Government “desperately wanted to see lucrative projects such as the multi-million-dollar Mt Lindsay tin mine reach fruition.”

Dollars generated by mining can surpassed dairy, beef, and wine combined. The mining ventures of St Lindsay mine, for one, aims to target the world’s second-largest tin deposit that overlaps part of the Tarkine in the state’s North-West. It could generate up to $250 million annually, the report added.

Tasmania Priemiere Lara Giddings also admitted mining industry is a crucial source of income for the Government. The ABC reported she is adamant the Tarkine’s proposed listing should not compromise future mining operations.

She says low impact operations similar to MMG’s new Southern Hercules open cut mine at Rosebery can occur in the Tarkine without compromising the region’s environmental values.

“Mining is an essential part of the Tasmanian economy, it has a royalty benefit to the State Government which helps to contribute to our state budget as well, so we’re keen to see mining continue.”


Rare species inhabit the Tarkine (Photo: Discovertarkine.com)

The Age has traced back the history of the campaign to protect the Tarkine. It says it started from Tasmanian forests disputes way back the 1980s. Former Green Senator Bob Brown suggested the name “Tarkine” to honour the memory of the local indigenous Tarkiner people. The campaign was initially dubbed “For the Forests”. Since then frequent skirmishes over its protection have become common.

Ever since there has been skirmishing over its protection – no more so than in the case of the ”Road to Nowhere”. This 70-kilometre, north-south link road cutting across the wilderness’ western side took seven years to build – and was stopped and restarted by successive governments.

When the road opened in 1995, then Premier Ray Groom claimed it as proof the tide was turning against environmentalists. It remains little used.

Logging into the northern fringes of the Tarkine has a long history and has met few protests. Its most contentious timber is the rainforest myrtle – a deep-red cabinetmaker’s delight. Under the Howard government, 70,000 hectares of myrtle rainforest was reserved in 2005.

Guided tours are provided in the Tarkine (Photo:tarkinelodge.com)

The Tarkine Wilderness has been waiting for enlistment as a national park for the past three decades, but the Federal Government is delaying it for further consideration.   UK-based The Independent noted the Government is unconvinced of its listing while the the WWF, among with other Green groups have been watching for the development of  the Tarkine’s listing. View timeline here.

While the Tarkine awaits, the Tarkine National Coalition fears ten new mines will put up over the next five years.

Blog Link: Asian Correspondent

Record participation for Earth Hour 2012

Here’s a press release of the WWF Australia:

Tonight’s the biggest ever Earth Hour with a record 147 countries and territories are preparing to send a united message that now is the time to take action for the planet.

Hundreds of landmarks across more than 5,000 cities and towns will go dark at 8:30PM on Saturday local time, with Libya, Algeria, Bhutan and French Guinea among those participating for the first time.

Earth Hour began in 2007 as a one-city initiative in Sydney, Australia and has since grown to be the world’s largest voluntary action for the environment.

In Australia, cities across the country will go dark with 151 towns and cities signed up including, for the first time, the Torres Straight Islands, Christmas Island, and the Territories of Cocos Keeling Isles. The Prime Minister Julia Gillard has also lent her support to Earth Hour this year, saying “what began in Sydney as a simple idea to raise awareness of climate change – has become a global success.”

A number of other prominent Australians are also supporting Earth Hour this year including Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore, Isabel Lucas, Peter Garrett MP, Bill Granger, Miranda Kerr, Missy Higgins, Bindi Irwin, Laura Andon and Lizzy Lovette.
Around the world prominent supporters for this year’s Earth Hour include cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Greenpeace International Executive Director Kumi Naidoo, former Vice President Al Gore, The Director General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, the President of Fiji Ratu Epeli Nailatikau, and astronaut André Kuipers who will take part in Earth Hour from the International Space Station.

Read on….