Delegation to argue for Tasmanian wilderness

Originally published by Yahoo News

Conservationists will make a direct appeal to members of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee to not only maintain the protection of Tasmanian forests, but extend safeguards across more of the state.

The Wilderness Society will send a delegation to Bonn, Germany, where the UN will on Sunday begin meeting to consider a number of global protection measures.

Among them is a draft decision that rejects a proposal supported by the Tasmanian and federal governments to open more of the island state’s wilderness to industry.

Society spokesman Vica Bayley said he and his colleagues would be on the sidelines of the meeting to push their case.

“The draft decision seeks the Australian government, through the Tasmanian government, improve the conservation status of areas so that mining and logging is prohibited,” he told reporters on Wednesday.

The committee’s draft document also calls for greater liaison between government and the Aboriginal community over land status, and more funding for parks and wildlife services to manage the areas.

epa04264358 A picture made available on 18 June 2014 shows the tallest flowering plants in the world, called swamp gums or eucalyptus regnans, they are also the tallest hardwood tree, and are hundreds of years old, in Styx State Forest Reserve, Tasmania, Australia, 21 May 2014. The Australian government is trying to have 74,000 hectares of declared World Heritage forest area revoked to allow logging, a historical move to  overturn a decision of the World Heritage Committee. The World Heritage Committee will make their final decision on the proposed delisting of the world heritage area at the 38th Session of the Committee in Doha, Qatar, that runs until June 25. The decision if approved would allow logging in ancient forest areas like the Upper Florentine, Styx and Weld Valleys. The move has prompted demonstrations in Tasmania.  EPA/BARBARA WALTON

Photo: EPA/BARBARA WALTON

Tasmania’s Liberal government came to power in 2014 on a promise to restore confidence in the mining and logging sectors, with Premier Will Hodgman insisting there must be a balance struck with conservation.

The Tasmanian matters are not listed for discussion during the committee’s annual meeting and are among a swag of drafts that could be passed, rejected or raised for debate.

“There is no expectation that we are going to get a decision or any tangible outcome from this meeting,” Mr Bayley said, while admitting he’s cautiously confident.

The draft sets out a list of moves required by the state and federal governments “to meet the expectations of the international community”.

The Society representatives will use the trip to campaign for proposed extensions to Tasmania’s World Heritage Area, mainly in the state’s west and northwest but also at Recherche Bay in the south.

“These are all areas that have got outstanding values that measure up to World Heritage standards, but sit inadequately protected, under-recognised, under threat from logging, mining and other destructive activities,” Mr Bayley said.

Queensland’s Great Barrier Reef is a major item on the committee’s agenda and is expected to be considered in greater depth than the Tasmanian issues.

Mr Hodgman later confirmed the state government will send a representative to Bonn for the UNESCO meeting, to balance the scales on what would otherwise be a “very one-sided, biased and no doubt probably inaccurate version”.

“For anyone to suggest that we’re compromising heritage values and assets, is wrong,” he told reporters.

“What we are doing is making sure our heritage assets are in fact properly valued and appreciated.”

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