Activists make last-gasp forest protest in Doha

Wilderness Society campaign manager Vica Bayley and wilderness photographer Rob Blakers. Picture: Georgie Burgess
Wilderness Society campaign manager Vica Bayley and wilderness photographer Rob Blakers. Picture: Georgie Burgess

ENVIRONMENTALISTS say it's "crunch time" for Tasmania's World Heritage forests, as they ramp up last-minute protest action against the removal of areas from listing.

A delegation from the Wilderness Society leaves the state today, headed for Doha in Qatar to lobby the World Heritage Committee, which is expected to hand down its decision next week.

This follows a rally against the removal of the forest listing, scheduled for noon today in Hobart, which is expected to attract hundreds.

The federal government has applied to the World Heritage Committee to remove 74,000 hectares of forests added last year under the forest peace deal.

It is understood Forest Industries Association of Tasmania has made a submission to the World Heritage Committee to uphold the listing.

FIAT chief executive Terry Edwards last month said he took his role as a signatory to the forest peace deal "very seriously" and wouldn't abandon its outcomes.

Tasmanian photographer Rob Blakers yesterday released a publication of World Heritage forest images, which environmentalists will take to Doha to strengthen their case.

Mr Blakers said the forests "speak for themselves".

"This book will bring Tasmania's forests to Doha and present the case against Prime Minister Tony Abbott's attack on World Heritage," Blakers said.

But Tasmanian Liberal Senator Richard Colbeck said green groups were misrepresenting the areas flagged for removal.

"Large areas have been disturbed, particularly for forestry," Senator Colbeck said.

"We want to protect the values of what is genuinely wilderness, but it includes areas that no person could sensibly consider to be wilderness.

"This stuff shouldn't have been included in the first time, it was a political decision from a political process."

A draft decision released by the UNESCO World Heritage Centre in Paris last month recommended that the World Heritage Committee not allow the government to delist the area.

Despite this, Wilderness Society spokesman Vica Bayley said he would not be "resting on his laurels".

"We won't be happy and confident until the decision is made to reject the federal government's application," Mr Bayley said.

"Our role in Doha is to ensure the forests have a local voice, and a local face advocating for their protection."

Premier Will Hodgman said the state government backed the delisting of the areas, but would "accept the umpire's verdict".

Mr Hodgman said no state government representatives would be travelling to Doha.


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