Federal Environment Minister Tony Burke says he was forced to make the toughest call of his career after his attempts to find a compromise solution for the Tarkine failed.
At a media conference at Wynyard, Mr Burke said he had tried to come up with a boundary that would take in the Tarkine's rainforests without threatening jobs, but found it was impossible.
``Ultimately the answer came back that I wouldn't be being true to the heritage values if I drew boundaries that had that level of compromise and pretended that I was somehow representing the natural values,'' Mr Burke said.
Faced with an unemployment rate in the North-West nearing 8 per cent, Mr Burke said the consequences of listing the bulk of the Tarkine, which would probably kill off any new mines, would be unacceptable.
He said his visits to the Tarkine last year had also been crucial.
``When I went to the Tarkine, I was expecting to see nothing but the rainforest pictures that I had seen in campaign posters,'' Mr Burke said.
``When I landed at Savage River, when I went to the legacy mining sites, when I saw in bush walking trails that I was actually walking along an old aqueduct or that there would be old rail lines at my feet, I realised that the Tarkine has a very different history to much of what would be viewed by most people on the mainland.''