World Heritage experts & conservationists have today welcomed the decision of the World Heritage Committee to reject the Australian Government’s attempt to delist 74,000 hectares of forests from the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage area.
World Heritage Expert Alec Marr is in Doha with World Heritage science and legal experts as part of the Tasmanian delegation.
“The State Parties on the Committee have reaffirmed that these forests are World Heritage and will stay protected,” said World Heritage expert Alec Marr. “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 Mr 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 Jenny Weber, Campaign Manager for the Bob Brown Foundation.
“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.
A delegation of Tasmanian World Heritage experts and campaigners are currently in Doha and available for interviews.
For immediate comment from the expert delegation in Doha, please contact
Dr Phill Pullinger on +61 428 554 934
Alec Marr on +974 3307 4745
Jenny Weber on +974 3318 4114
For further information or to organise in-Australia media comment, please contact Tim Norton on 0402 077 721