The Australian government decided to de-list part of Tasmanian forests from the world heritage wilderness area, despite opposition from environmentalists, logging groups and the state government. The government will deliver a proposal to the Unesco world heritage committee asking for a “boundary modification” which includes the delisting of around 74,000 hectares. If approved, it would wind back part of the listing of 170,000 hectares which were added to the existing world heritage forest area in early 2012 by then environment minister Tony Burke. That decision was reached with the support of the timber industry and environmentalists amid a peace deal seeking to end decades of dispute over the forests in the state.
Tasmanian Greens leader Nick McKim said to The Guardian that the government’s decision is designed to “plunge Tasmania back into conflict at the expense of our forests and forest industry”.
“Opening up these magnificent forests for logging is like mining the great pyramids of Egypt for road gravel," added McKim. “Just when Tasmania was beginning to move on from the tired old conflicts of the past, the extremist Liberals are trying to drag us back. If the Liberals want to destroy the forest industry and damage Australia’s reputation as a global citizen then they are going about it in the right way.”
Tasmania environment minister Brian Wightman said in December that just seeking to delist a world heritage area would “undoubtedly bring Australia into disrepute”.
"The Tasmanian forest agreement is paving the way for the establishment of a sustainable, long-term and successful forest industry,” he said. “The federal and state Liberal parties are hell-bent on taking the industry backwards and removing any chance for Tasmania to market its products.”