Experts and public agree: protect Tassie’s forests

A new poll shows 97 per cent of Australians believe governments should do all they can to protect natural places on the World Heritage List and 91 per cent believe 74,000 hectares of threatened Tasmanian Wilderness should be kept on the UN list.

In January the Environment Minister Greg Hunt asked the World Heritage Committee to delist 74,000 hectares of old growth and high conservation value forest – approved for the world’s highest protection less than a year earlier – to enable logging in the forests of the Upper Florentine, Styx and Weld Valleys.

Yesterday the Senate Standing Committee on Environment & Communications recommended the government’s proposal be withdrawn.

The Australian Conservation Foundation and other environment groups gave evidence to the committee that only a tiny percentage of the forests was disturbed and a boundary change would not enhance protection of the forest’s outstanding universal values.   

Now an independent poll of more than 1000 nationally representative Australians, conducted by Lonergan Research on behalf of ACF, has found:

  • Almost all Australians (97 per cent) agree that regardless of economic or political pressure to exploit natural places on the World Heritage List, Australian governments should do all they can to protect them.
  • Nine in ten Australians (91 per cent) believe the 74,000 hectares of Tasmanian Wilderness should be kept on the World Heritage List.
  • More than 9 in 10 (94 per cent) of Australians think governments should honour the Tasmanian Forest Agreement.

“This polling clearly shows Australians are passionate about Tasmania’s World Heritage listed forests and they expect the government to protect them, not exploit them,” said ACF’s Healthy Ecosystems Campaigner Jess Abrahams.

“The scientific experts who gave evidence to the Senate Committee said these forests should not be de-listed – this poll shows the vast majority of Australians feel the same.

“Why on earth is the Abbott Government ignoring the heads and hearts of ordinary and expert Australians on this crucial issue?” Mr Abrahams asked.

The UN Committee will make its final decision in Doha, Qatar in June.