The Australian Government put a proposal to the World Heritage Committee to de-list 74,000 hectares of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area.
In its 38th Session held in Doha, Qatar, the World Heritage Committee unanimously rejected the proposal. The Committee took less than 10 minutes to reach a decision.
Delegates from three countries, Portugal, Germany and Colombia, spoke against the proposal.
The delegate from Portugal spoke at length saying “accepting this delisting would set an unacceptable precedent” and “The justifications presented to the reduction are to say the least feeble.”
ARCS was officially represented at the meeting by a delegation headed by Alec Marr, Director of our International World Heritage Programme, and Peter Hitchcock, an expert on World Heritage matters, Lincoln Siliakus, an international legal expert with World Heritage experience, and Jenny Webber who has expert knowledge of the Tasmanian WHA.
The delegation was supported by a detailed submission to the World Heritage Committee, “Why the Australian proposal for de-listing parts of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area should be rejected”, prepared by World Heritage experts and endorsed by expert scientists including Peter Hitchcock AM, Adjunct Associate Professor Peter Valentine, William Laurance, Distinguished Research Professor and Australian Laureate Fellow, James Kirkpatrick, Distinguished Professor of Geography and Environment Studies, Dr Aila Keto AO, ARCS President and Sean Cadman, environmental consultant. The report showed the Australian submission was misleading in claiming that the area proposed for de-listing was degraded. In fact, less than 10 per cent had been logged, the remainder being in excellent condition. A major point made by the Government was that the area contained plantations of pine and eucalypt. The area of pine plantation is 80 square metres and the eucalypt plantation area is just 8 hectares or 0.01 per cent of the proposed excision.
It is clear that the real reason for the proposed de-listing was to allow logging.