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UN raps Australia for bid to delist heritage forest
June 24, 2014, 7:48 am

With 17 national parks, 200 forest reserves, and thousands of miles of tracks, Tasmania is Australia's only island state [AP]

With 17 national parks, 200 forest reserves, and thousands of miles of tracks, Tasmania is Australia’s only island state [AP]

The United Nations’ World Heritage Committee on Tuesday rejected a bid by the Australian government to delist 74,000 hectares of heritage-listed forest for timber industry use, local media reported.

The area in Tasmania was part of 170,000 hectares added to the World Heritage Area listing last year, the ABC reported.

The Australian government said the 74,000 hectares were degraded by previous logging and should be opened up for the timber industry.

But opponents claimed only 8.6 per cent of the forests had been disturbed, with the rest being pristine old-growth rainforest.

The meeting was held in Doha, and World Heritage Committee delegates said “accepting this delisting would set an unacceptable precedent.”

With 17 national parks, 200 forest reserves, and thousands of miles of tracks, Tasmania is Australia’s only island state.

The UN has also disapproved the Australian government’s proposal to dump 3m cubic metres of dredged material into the Great Barrier Reef world heritage site, as part of the expansion of the Abbot Point coal port. Indian conglomerate Adani Enterprises’ plans to expand the port. The UN warned last week that the reef could be added to the World Heritage in Danger list at the next meeting in 2015.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott said he was disappointed by the decision.

“The application that we made to remove from the boundaries of the World Heritage listing – areas of degraded forest, areas of plantation timber – we thought was self-evidently sensible,” he said.

Federal Labor environment spokesman Mark Butler said the decision was a win for the environment.

“Why Tony Abbott wanted to go in, rip the agreement up and seek to become only the third country after Tanzania and Oman to seek to delist one of its own properties is still beyond me,” he said.

 

 Source: Agencies

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