Thousands protest move to reduce World Heritage-listed areas of Tasmanian forests

Thousands of people have rallied outside Tasmania’s parliament to protest the Abbott Government’s attempt to revoke World Heritage listing for forest areas in the state.

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The federal government is looking to remove 74,000 hectares of forest from the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area.

The area slated for delisting is part of 172,000 hectares added last year as a result of the historic peace deal.

Wilderness Society spokesman Vicka Bayley told SBS the rally sends a strong message to the World Heritage Committee.

“[We are] standing as one in solidarity to support the World Heritage Committee in rejecting the Abbott government’s proposal to de-list World heritage forests in Tasmania so they can be logged,” she said.

“So this is a clear sign of support for the Committee and a clear sign of opposition to Prime Minister Abbott and his proposal to de-list these forests.”

Logger group Forest Industries Association of Tasmania (FIAT) is also reported to have written to UNESCO, objecting to the government’s plans.

Wilderness Society campaigners will be heading to Doha to make their case during Sunday’s annual UNESCO meeting.

A decision on the government’s application is set to be made towards the end of next week.

The meeting will also determine whether Australia should be given more time to prove it is looking after the Great Barrier Reef.

Federal government forestry spokesman and Tasmanian senator Richard Colbeck accuses the green movement of spreading lies.

Senator Colbeck says much of the area has been logged and some “old growth” is only 60 years old.

“It is clear that there has been harvesting activity in some areas back into the 1940s and in others back to the 1800s,” Senator Colbeck said.

“There is irrefutable evidence that much of this was industrial scale.”

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