The United Nations' World Heritage Committee has delivered a
rebuke to the Australian government, rejecting its request to
cut Tasmania's World Heritage Area so it can be logged.
The WHC, meeting in Doha on Monday, declined an Australian
application to wind back 74,000 hectares of protected forest
added last year.
The area was initially part of 170,000 hectares protected
under Tasmania's forest peace deal struck by former state and
federal Labor governments.
Green groups had accused the Abbott government of pursuing
the unprecedented delisting for ideological reasons.
Speaking from Doha early on Tuesday morning Australian time,
Wilderness Society Tasmania Campaign Manager Vica Bayley
called on the government to now accept the WHC decision and
get on with the job of protecting forests and engaging with
Tasmania's Aboriginal community on outstanding cultural
Also in Doha, Environment Tasmania spokesperson Dr Phill
Pullinger described the decision as "a great relief for the
wild forests of the Great Western Tiers, Weld Valley, Butlers
Gorge and the Upper Florentine Valley".
However, "much of Tasmania's natural heritage remains at
risk, with the Tasmanian Government aiming to turn vast areas
of protected forest into logging zones", Dr Pullinger said.
"The World Heritage Committee's decision sends a clear
message that the international community holds Tasmania's
forests in the highest regard," he said.
"It is a message we hope the Tasmanian government listens to
by delivering the remaining 400,000 hectares of forest
reserves agreed under the Tasmanian Forest Agreement," he
Also part of the Doha delegation, Australian Conservation
Foundation campaigner Jess Abrahams said the finding
underlined the fact Tasmania's forests were some of the most
spectacular on earth and "the Southern Hemisphere's
equivalent of the Californian Redwoods".
Environment Minister Greg Hunt applied to UNESCO in February,
a move that threatened to reignite decades of conflict over
forestry in the island state.
Federal forestry spokesman and Tasmanian senator Richard
Colbeck has previously accused the green movement of
spreading lies about the forest area in question.
He said much of it had been logged and some "old growth" was
only 60 years old.