Posted in Campaigns

Future Remains Uncertain for Tasmania’s Old Growth Forests

Update:

May 2012

In 2005 Ethical Traveler and the Wilderness Society of Australia joined forces in a campaign against the destruction of Tasmania’s old growth forests, a vital environmental resource. We urged the Australian government to keep its promise of immediate and widespread protection. Progress was made as some areas came under protection, however, later that year we became aware that the areas protected were only those largely unsuitable for logging.

Our campaign generated awareness and encouraged people to speak against the government’s disregard for environmental conservation and its actions actively aiding deforestation. Talks between government, environment and forest industry representatives continued for several years and they finally came to an agreement that protects 430,000 hectares of native forest from logging. †During this period of discussion deforestation continued and large swathes of forest were unfortunately destroyed.

Conservationists argue that more can be done and protests continue as new threats to Tasmania’s forests develop.†To find out more about the current situation please visit†www.wilderness.org.au.

Thank you for your incredible support of this campaign.

Tasmanian forest

The island-state of Tasmania is home to the world’s tallest hardwood forests and the largest area of rainforest in Australia. Old growth trees standing as high as 300 feet provide crucial habitat to native animals, including rare and endangered species such as the wedge-tailed eagle and the giant freshwater crayfish. Visitors come from all over to view these spectacular forests, making them one of Tasmania’s most valuable tourist assets.

But new logging roads, logging, burning, and poisoning are destroying this magnificent wilderness. According to Forest Practices Board Annual Reports, “Over 10,000 football fields of native forest are being clearfelled and burnt in Tasmania each year.” This includes rainforest. Most of the trees logged in Tasmania end up as woodchips, and 1080 poison used in logging operations is killing thousands of animals each year.

Although Australia’s recently re-elected Coalition Government vows to protect large areas of Tasmania’s old growth forests, most notably in the Tarkine—Australia’s largest continuous rainforest—much of the State’s wilderness will remain without protection. Unfortunately, a delay in the government’s protection policy is keeping all of Tasmania’s old growth forests vulnerable.

The Wilderness Society of Australia propelled Tasmania’s wilderness to the forefront of Australia’s recent general elections. Still, the forests remain a long way from recovery. Efforts to save this natural resource face many hurdles, beginning with the implementation of a promised government policy to protect Tasmania’s old growth trees.

What needs to be done? Prime Minister John Howard promised to preserve these forests during his reelection campaign. His administration now appears to be delaying. Letters from concerned citizens (particularly travelers who may vote with their dollars) are needed to help convince the government to follow through on its environmental promises.

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