World Heritage value forests nominated a fortnight ago by the Australian government for inclusion on the World Heritage register are still not safe and are being logged in secret, Tasmanian environment groups Still Wild Still Threatened, and Huon Valley Environment Centre and national group Markets For Change revealed today.
A detailed report as well as film footage of the ongoing destruction, collected since the nomination, including the installation of new forestry gates to exclude the public was released by the groups. Footage also shows the threatened forests that have not yet seen a chainsaw, although Forestry Tasmania has plans to log the intact areas with the knowledge and apparent agreement of the Minister for the Environment, Tony Burke.
An online action will tomorrow be launched from the Observer Tree through social media, where people can write to Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Environment Minister Tony Burke, asking for urgent action to halt the logging of the extraordinary values of the nominated World Heritage Value forests. Also a group of conservationists held a banner out the front of Canberra’s Parliament House this morning calling on Gillard and Burke, “You nominated the forests now stop the logging”.
“When Minister Burke announced that the World Heritage nomination had gone to Paris I was overjoyed, but now am dismayed that he never told the people of Australia that the logging of these forests of global significance would continue. This is unacceptable and I am now compelled to remain in my tree sit until these forests are actually safe as we assumed they would be as soon as their values were put forward to Paris,” said Miranda Gibson from the Observer Tree.
“Conservationists in Canberra today are bringing the voice of the global community to the Australian Government. They have displayed a banner that features over 300 images sent in from around the globe, as the international community called for the protection of these world heritage value forests. Many more people will continue to bring the message to Gillard and Burke through the online action,” said Ms Gibson.
Miranda Gibson said, “In Butlers Gorge nearby the Observer Tree the tall forests are recognised to be absolutely outstanding wilderness and very significant tracts of the tallest flowering plants on the planet, yet this is where logging is ripping the place apart with three separate industrial scale operations.”
“The Australian government is abrogating its responsibility to protect the very World Heritage values they have nominated and many conservationists will be shocked that this could happen and angry that they have been kept in the dark about the continued logging. We are calling on the Federal Government to prevent any new logging from commencing and ensure that any current logging cease, so as to maintain the integrity and values of the World Heritage nominated forests.” said Jenny Weber of Huon Valley Environment Centre.
Jenny Weber said, “In the Huon region, seven areas of forests, with extraordinary values are scheduled for ongoing logging. The loggers are not in any of these forest areas now and we do not accept that logging should commence. In the far south in the Catamaran, the tall eucalypt forests in the Esperance and wilderness forests in the Picton Valley, we will not stand by while logging is scheduled to start in these world heritage value forests.”
These unique ecosystems in the Huon are on the schedule to supply timber to Ta Ann whose plywood flooring has already proved controversial in the Japanese market, which is another unacceptable source,” Jenny Weber said.
“Companies selling Tasmanian wood products will now be receiving supplies coming from forests nominated for protection for their world heritage values, a confronting prospect when the markets are actually crying out for improved environmental performance,” said CEO of Markets For Change, Peg Putt.
“Imagine a label on furniture or flooring saying ‘world heritage values died here’ and you get the idea of how horrified consumers will be and the damage this can do to the reputation of Tasmanian timber products just when world heritage recognition was supposed to crown the Tasmanian Forests Agreement. No wonder these logging plans were not publicly announced.”
“A failure of political will is now undermining both the industry and the best environmental treasures of Tasmania and the Prime Minister needs to take the matter in hand and insist that the world heritage values her government has nominated are not under assault for a single day more,” Ms Putt concluded.`