Saturday June 14 2014 marked the return to Hobart of the Tasmanian forest rally – something many had hoped might be a thing of the past after years of negotiations between the Forestry Industry, environmental groups and unions struck an agreement between conservation and industrial harvesting in Tasmania’s old-growth/high conservation value forests last year.
The reason for this rally was really quite extraordinary – the Australian Liberal Government lead by Tony Abbott has made a determined push to have 74,000 hectares of wild forested land stripped of its World Heritage status to allow logging. The World Heritage Committee is meeting in Doha over the next couple of weeks and a decision will be made whether to accept Tony Abbotts request.
The forests in question include the Upper Florentine Valley, Butlers Gorge and the Navarre Plains. The Governments argument for delisting these areas includes claims that the forests have been previously logged, roaded or otherwise degraded and are therefore not worthy of World Heritage status. These claims have since been thoroughly discredited through the use of evocative photography (in particular images by Rob Blakers) but also the ABC “Fact Check” Unit; the Australian Senate and recent reports indicate that the Governments own environment department acknowledges that only a tiny part the total 74,000 hectares has been degraded in any way.
Organisers estimate around 5000 were present yesterday and it was a great show of support. The event was very well covered in the media too with all TV stations present and The Mercury there too.