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United Nations demands a zero ban on logging and mining in Tasmania's World Heritage Region

The United Nations has finally called for ban on mining and logging activities in Tasmania’s world heritage region.

This call by the UN has prompted the Tasmanian government to reassess a new management strategy for the large uncultivated area. The 21 nations on UNESCO’s world heritage group have officially signed an agreement which states that “the government must ensure that commercial logging and mining are not permitted within the entire property” and that a well-defined scheme is analysed for the wilderness region so that ecology values are wholly preserved.

The government of Tasmania has set up plans to start up almost 200,000 hectares for logging; this region constitutes 12 percent of the state’s world heritage region. They have also designed another strategy to enhance the construction of tourism infrastructure. Tasmania’s world heritage area covers around 1.5m hectares, which is about 20% of thestate’s land mass. The preserved region consists of towering temperate forests, lakes and mountains, as well as important Aboriginal sites.

The Tasmanian government has emphasized that this activity, in conjunction with “selective” logging, will enhance the state’s struggling economy, but environmentalists claim it would impede the exact importance of world heritage values.“Logging and mining have no role to play in the world heritage area,” stated Vica Bayley, Campaigner at the Wilderness Society. “You can’t log an area you’re claiming to protect the values for. These are some of the most spectacular and valuable forests in the world.” “This very clear call by the world heritage committee shouldn’t be ignored. It’s now up to the Tasmanian government as to whether it addresses the expectations of the international community.”

Vica Bayley, who was in Germany, stated that delegates are “confused” as to why they have had to deal with fresh proposals to log Tasmania’s world heritage forests. Rocky Sainty, a Member of the Local Aboriginal community who was also present at the meeting in Bonn, stressed that the assessment of cultural heritage was “urgent”. “The Aboriginal community is proud to have its ancestral values recognised as some of the most outstanding cultural heritage in the world,” he said. “We want to see it properly researched, protected, managed and respected.”

Matthew Groom, Tasmania’s Environment Minister, would not rule out logging and mining but indicated that the formulation of the management plan is an ongoing process. “We fully acknowledge that the world heritage committee has expressed concern to ensure that the new plan is genuinely protective of the extraordinary natural and cultural values of the area,” Matthew Groom stated.

“We share a commitment to the protection of those values and we want to continue to work with the world heritage committee to see a responsible outcome achieved. We do not want to see its values compromised.” Matthew stated that it was “disappointing and misleading” to see green groups say the government wanted to massively expand logging and mining in the area. World heritage committee delegates will visit Tasmania before the state submits an updated report to UNESCO by February 1, 2016.

Source: Oliver M., July 2, 2015, 13:46 AEST. UN calls for ban on logging and mining in Tasmania's world heritage area: http://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2015/jul/02/un-calls-for-ban-on-logging-and-mining-in-tasmanias-world-heritage-area?CMP=share_btn_tw Accessed July 2, 2015

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The Author

Douglas Yeboah

Douglas is recently pursuing his PhD program in Electrical and Electronic Engineering at Charles Darwin University, Australia. He holds a Master of Science in Renewable Energy and Distributed Generation from Heriot-Watt University, UK and Bachelor of Science in Electrical and Electronic Engineering from Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Ghana with First Class. He is currently examining cost-effective ways to supply electricity, using renewable energy sources, to remote communities.

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