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The World Heritage Committee yesterday made a unanimous decision to maintain the World Heritage status of Tasmania’s forests. The Australian Government was an international embarrassment with it’s attempt to have 74,000 hectares of forest removed from the list, that had only been given World Heritage status at last year’s annual meeting.
Portugal spoke at length to support the protection of the forests, and indicating the way in which a de-listing would undermine the integrity of World Heritage. “Accepting this de-listing today would be setting an unacceptable precedent impossible to deny in similar circumstances in the future. If this committee cares for conservation according to responsible engagement of state parties to the convention when they submit their nominations, we cannot accept these requests to de-list” said the spokesperson for the Portuguese delegation.
Just as we did this time last year, everyone sat watching the online live feed from the World Heritage Committee. And I once again felt that flood of relief that came as the hammer went down to declare our forests still officially World Heritage listed.
Thank you to everyone who took part in the Global Action to #DefendWorldHeritage in the lead up to this meeting. We had thousands of people around the world, across 16 countries, standing up for Tasmania’s forests. You can check out the slideshow of images by clicking HERE. Or take a look at the mosaic poster below, designed by Emma Capp of Still Wild Still Threatened. Zoom in and see if you can find your photo!
This is a great success and I’m so proud to be a part of an international movement that has achieved such a fantastic outcome for our forests! Of course, we must not forget about what needs to be done next. There is still a long way to go to ensure that our forests have the real protection they deserve. And we need your help to keep the momentum going so that we can go from one success to another to another, until there’s is an end to the industrial scale destruction of our native forests.
Check out and share my opinion piece on ABC Environment (CLICK HERE), outlining why the campaign is far from over and what we need to fight for now to ensure our forests survive into the future.
Hundreds of people all around the world are taking action this weekend to defend World Heritage. We’ve had over 250 actions so far, and more coming in all the time.
Check out the photos here:
And if you haven’t taken part yet, it’s not too late. All you need to do is make a sign that says “Defend World Heritage” or save the image below and print it out to hold. Then take a photo and upload it to Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/306394246192096/
Or post on twitter with hashtag #DefendWorldHeritage
Or email us at email@example.com
Observer Tree and Still Wild Still Threatened are joining with the Bob Brown Foundation and the Australian Marine Conservation Society to bring together people around the world in strong global message of support for protecting Australia’s World Heritage sites.
In just a few weeks the World Heritage Committee will decide the fate of two of Australia’s most iconic and significant environments; Tasmania’s forests and the Great Barrier Reef. Join with thousands of others from June 13-15th in our Global Action….
Now is the time to add your voice to the global call for the protection of Tasmania’s World Heritage Area. Check out the new online campaign launched today and share it far and wide! Join the campaign and send a message to the World Heritage Committee that people all around the globe want to see Tasmania’s forests stay protected forever.
Check out this beautiful short film launched today, following my story of spending 449 days in the Observer Tree and my experiences at the Camp Florentine blockade. Thanks to Jeff Wirth for putting this film together – it’s what everyone who has followed Observer Tree has been waiting for! Hope you enjoy it and please share it far and wide. Let’s spread the word about the fight to defend Tasmania’s World Heritage forests, because the battle is far from over. Now is the time to get active and make sure our forests stay standing for the future.
It’s hard to believe but the Australian government intends to open up Tasmania’s World Heritage forests to logging destruction. They have officially requested revocation of 74,000 hectares of World Heritage listed forests. Although the loggers previously claimed to support protection of these outstanding forests they are now eerily silent, waiting for the spoils.
We need your help now to keep these forests safe. The industry must be told of the overwhelming revulsion of people everywhere if the chainsaws return, making their products unsaleable.
Sign the online action to send a message to the whole chain of destruction from the loggers, through to the processors and the retailers – there is no market for World Heritage destruction.
Two years ago, I climbed into the upper canopy of Observer Tree and vowed to stay until the forest was protected. On that day, I had no idea what would lay ahead of me in what would become a 14 month long tree sit. To sit here and reflect on the past two years – I realise how much has changed for me in that time. The connection that I developed with that tree and the forest around it, the lessons I learnt, the challenges and inspiration. And so much has changed for the forest. This time two years ago, chainsaws were tearing apart the forest around me, as logging continued for the 3rd day in coupe TN044B. I sat there and listened to the sound of those saws and the trees falling and wondered if my presence there could ever save that forest. Two days latter, loggers came to the base of my tree and called out to say they were leaving. They packed up the machines, drove them away and never came back. That forest that would have been a clearfell by the end of that summer, is now still standing. I will never forget the day when the World Heritage committee announced their decision – the forest that I had come to know as much as I know myself, the tree that had become my closest companion – was now World Heritage listed. It’s safe from the chainsaws that once threatened it’s survival. But the fight is not over. We need to stay vigilant to ensure that the forest is protected, as the Australian Prime Minister talks of trying to over turn the World Heritage listing. We also need to keep on fighting for the native forests that are still being logged right now.
In Tasmania, high conservation value forests are still falling. The World Heritage decision is significant, but we always knew that this would not be enough to provide the conservation outcomes that are desperately needed to protect our ecosystems and our endangered species.
Right now I am in another area of forest in Far East Gippsland, Victoria. I’m here with conservationists from around the country, to take action for our forests. This is the start of a national campaign to end the industrial scale of logging of native forests in Australia. Check out what we’re up to: http://www.fearlesssummeraus.net
Yesterday I made this short video to mark two years since climbing into the Observer Tree. I would love it if you would share this far and wide, and help to spread the word that the fight for our forests is continuing….
This week is your last chance to purchase art from our online exhibition, which finishes on Friday, May 31st. All proceeds from art sales go towards the campaign to protect Tasmania’s ancient forests.
Media Release: 7th May, 2013.
The implications for native forests around Australia of Tasmania’s controversial new forest law are alarming forest campaign groups around the nation.
They fear that the loggers, state governments and those environment groups party to the forest agreement will now attempt to use this as a model for the rest of the country with dreadful impacts on Australia’s forests.
The constraints on advocacy and peaceful protest are also of great concern, as an extraordinary precedent has been set under which the environment will be punished if groups dare to strongly advocate genuine forest protection and transition from native forest logging, especially to markets and consumers. Already the Prime Minister has demonstrated in her call to silence environmental critics that an era of victimisation and vilification has begun.
Forest campaigners around the nation have condemned the new Tasmanian forest law, including Environment East Gippsland, Gippsland Environment Group, South East Region Conservation Alliance (SERCA), Rainforest Information Centre, Forestmedia, Friends of Leadbeater’s Possum, Chipstop, and NativesRule.org.
Steve Meacher, a Victorian campaigner of many years working to save the endangered Leadbeater’s Possum stated, “Clearly there remain significant problems with the Tasmanian agreement and mainland environment groups will not consider themselves bound by it nor by any future agreement which takes a similar approach. The deal is imposing conditions that are not within the powers of the parties.”
Environment East Gippsland’s Jill Redwood stated, “Tasmania is ushering in an era of entrenched industrial logging in native forests and attempting to gag environmental forest campaigns, both of which are unacceptable”, she said. “The Tasmanian agreement has been flagged as a blueprintfor the rest of Australia’s forests and we will vehemently resist this.”
South East Region Conservation Alliance spokesperson Harriett Swift stated, “Holding the forests hostage to a bunch of obnoxious provisions, including ‘durability’ requirements to silence voices telling environmental truths to buyers and to halt forest protests, is an attack on civil liberties. Already the PM has called for dissenters to be silenced, and a campaign of denigrating such groups and the individuals who represent them is underway.”
“If the new law was genuinely aimed at balancing conservation outcomes and a sustainable industry, public scrutiny and comment about what it contains would be no threat to it.” Harriett Swift said.
“We expected nothing less than an adequate reserve system and an accountable industry. This agreement delivers neither,” Harriett Swift said.
Major problems with Tasmania’s forest agreement include:
· World Heritage nominated forests are still being logged and this will continue until mid-June, after which associated ongoing operations such as log removals will still continue in relation to those areas.
· The Wilderness Society, Australian Conservation Foundation and Environment Tasmania are actively promoting Tasmanian forest products, including wood sourced from destroying World Heritage value forests;
· No new reserves were created by the legislation. Only 90,000 hectares (of World Heritage forests) are to be protected in the next 18 months (and some logged meanwhile);
· All other promised protection will most likely never eventuate, but the loggers get their millions in funding, and ‘green’ groups assistance to sell the products immediately;
· Reserves that might be created can be opened for logging;
· If the Liberals win at national and state elections, then they will scuttle the conservation arrangements which arenot due to start until October 2014 at the earliest;
· The agreement included a requirement that Forestry Tasmania be awarded Forest Stewardship Council certification – which is highlyunlikely given their destructive methods of logging;
· Excisions? of valuable forests planned to be logged even though they are inside the areas slated for future protection;
· Native forest logging is entrenched and greenwashed, a major departure from national conservation groups’ policy for a rapid transition of logging away from native forests into existing plantations.