Forest divide 'hurting tourism'

WILDERNESS Society campaign manager Vica Bayley says the state government is sabotaging Tasmania's eco-tourism brand in its attempts to delist World Heritage protected forest.

However, Senator Richard Colbeck has rubbished the claims, and believes Mr Bayley ``will say anything to justify his campaign''.

Lobbyists will meet in Qatar on Sunday to hear the World Heritage Committee's final word on the proposed changes to the World Heritage boundary affecting 74,000 hectares of forest.

But Mr Bayley is concerned that conflict between the government and environmental groups will severely hurt Tasmania's image in the long run.

``What does it say about tourism and our eco clean-green brand when we're actively removing forest protection for logging?'' Mr Bayley said.

``This doesn't happen in developed countries.''

Senator Colbeck immediately shot back when questioned about the state of Tasmania's tourism industry.

``I think that's just another Green claim to attack industry in Tasmania and I dispute that completely,'' Senator Colbeck said.

``He [Mr Bayley] is about trying to destroy our forest industry.

``The tourism and forestry industries have co-existed and worked together for many years and they can continue to do so.''

Senator Colbeck also did not want to speculate on what action the federal government might take if the submission to delist the forest was dismissed.

``Let's see what happens,'' he said. ``We're doing what we can to make sure our perspective is understood.''

On Friday, the Australian government's Environmental Department revealed 8.6 per cent of the forest had been disturbed by industrial logging in the past, despite claims by Prime Minister Tony Abbott the 74,000 hectares was ``degraded''.

Federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt defended the data, however, and told media that undisturbed patches surrounding damaged forest would also need to be removed ``in order to achieve a coherent and practical boundary''.

Greens leader Kim Booth is confident the findings will derail the federal government's submission.

``The lie that the newly listed forest areas have been disturbed by industrial-scale logging has been exposed by the federal government's own Environment Department,'' Mr Booth said.


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