The Gillard and Giddings governments should move to extend the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area to include forests in the Tarkine, Styx, Weld, upper Florentine and Great Western Tiers, Australian Greens Leader Bob Brown said today.
"The report by Professor Jonathan West and his team of experts has backed what the Greens have been saying for 20 years - that Tasmania's giant eucalypts and rainforests are of World Heritage value," Senator Bob Brown said.
"The report says that this could be our 'last chance' to protect the heritage values of these forests.
The report found that 94% of the 572,000 hectares of forest nominated by environment groups had high conservation values, including rare and threatened species; old growth forests; Aboriginal heritage; cave systems and formations; giant trees; and rainforests.
"The West Report has also highlighted the importance of protecting these forests as a significant and quick contribution to reducing Australia's greenhouse gas emissions," Greens Deputy Leader Senator Christine Milne said.
"It is clear that the way forward is for immediate protection of these areas, as was agreed in the Statement of Principles at the outset of this process," Senator Milne said.
Significant findings in the report include:
- World heritage listing of the Tarkine would protect the largest area of cool temperate rainforest in the southern hemisphere.
- Tasmania's tall eucalypt forests satisfy at least three and possibly all four of the criteria for natural World Heritage Areas.
- Certain forests within the 572,000 ha are crucial habitats for rare, threatened or endangered species such as the grey goshawk, the Tasmanian devil, the spotted-tailed quoll, the swift parrot, the masked owl, the forty-spotted pardalote, azure kingfisher, and invertebrates such as the giant freshwater crayfish, the Mt Arthur burrowing crayfish, and several species of stag beetle.
Key Quotes from Capstone Report
In general, the ENGO report's claims regarding the conservation values of their proposed new forest reserves (i.e. the ENGO forest) are largely substantiated. (Page 15, Capstone Report)
- The majority of ENGO proposed reserves meet one or more National or World Heritage criteria, and formal national or international heritage assessment is warranted for most of the ENGO clusters. (Page 18, Capstone Report)
- It is apparent that beyond the ENGO proposed reserves, state forest land in Tasmania has been extensively logged and/or converted to plantation with the result that much of their natural heritage values have been destroyed or severely degraded. The ENGO proposed reserves have been found to mainly encapsulate most of the remaining intact forest. It follows that the ENGO proposed reserves represent the last chance to address and protect many natural heritage values on forested public land. Emphasis added. (Page 18, Capstone Report)
World Heritage - Tarkine and tall-eucalypt forests (Styx, Weld, Florentine etc)
- The area known as the Tarkine was assessed to have values that meet National Heritage criteria and are very likely to meet World Heritage criteria. It would, if included in the existing Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area, add a major new component to that inscribed property, by recognizing and protecting the largest area of cool temperate rainforest in the southern hemisphere. Emphasis added (Page 18, Capstone Report)
- New research and analysis leads to the conclusion that not only do the tall eucalypt forests readily satisfy (World Heritage) criteria (vii), (ix) and (x), it is highly likely that these forests also satisfy criterion (viii). (Page 18, Capstone Report)
- Southern Forests (Cockle Creek to Upper Derwent) - a substantial proportion of the ENGO proposed reserves adjoining and adjacent to the eastern boundary of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area (TWWHA) were found to have important conservation values. Many of these values was derive from the area's tall eucalypt forests but a significant number of areas have other important heritage attributes including karst, caves, Aboriginal sites and glacial features. Given their adjacency, these important attributes would add to the values and integrity of the World Heritage Area. (Page 19, Capstone Report)