Anxious wait over delisting

CONSERVATIONISTS were last night nervously awaiting a draft decision on whether 74,000 hectares of Tasmania's World Heritage Area would be delisted.

The United Nations World Heritage Committee was expected to release a draft decision in the early hours of this morning (Tastime) in Paris.

The federal Coalition is seeking to remove part of the area included in a boundary extension of the World Heritage Area approved last year.

The boundary extension was a key outcome of the forestry peace process supported by the previous Labor state and federal governments.

In Hobart yesterday, former Labor environment minister Tony Burke, who submitted the original boundary extension application last year, said he did it with the backing of the forestry industry.

"I remember before that World Heritage listing went in, I made one phone call and it was to the industry bodies to check they were in favour of it going ahead and it did," Mr Burke said.

"The government at the moment is trying to do something which almost no governments in the world have attempted."

The Wilderness Society has repeatedly urged the Coalition government to drop its "irresponsible request", which it says makes Australia "an international laughing stock".

This week a Senate inquiry, dominated by Labor and the Greens, recommended that the federal government ditch its attempt to remove the newly added areas.

The report found that 48 per cent of the 74,000 hectares in question were old-growth forest and just 4 per cent had been previously disturbed.

However, Tasmanian Liberal Senator Richard Colbeck, who has sent out daily photos of logged areas within the World Heritage boundary, says the extension was merely a "political process".


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