Forest fight forming over wilderness building plan
Federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt says he will not compromise Tasmania's world heritage value, despite backing development in key forest areas.
The Tasmanian State Government has released a draft management plan that covers some locations designated as World Heritage Areas (WHA).
The new plan would allow tourism developments and logging to take place in these areas.
The big change seems innocuous, with “wilderness zones” to be replaced by “remote recreation zones”.
But the simple tweak paves the way for low-scale private tourism investment in the World Heritage Area, and allows for logging of specialty timbers.
The plan has been backed by the state’s Labor opposition, but the Australian Greens have called it an “assault” on a pristine ecosystem, and they plan to notify the World Heritage Committee.
Mr Hunt says he is committed to ensuring all world heritage values are maintained.
He says the Commonwealth will continue to assess any proposals that could have a impact on national environmental significance.
But many are sceptical, given that it is the same department that supported logging in 74,000 hectares of WHA forest was degraded by previous logging.
That bid was shot down by the United Nations' World Heritage Committee.
Environmentalist and Greens Party founder Bob Brown says the Government should ditch the word ‘Wilderness’ from the name if it is not going to keep the wilderness zone intact.
“If they are going to destroy the wilderness value of this great World Heritage Area, let's at least retain the authenticity and take the word out,” he said.
“If that's their intention, I don't agree with them, ruining the wilderness value but keeping the name.
“If we're going to keep the name, then keep the value.”