Environmentalists everywhere (not to mention the planet itself) can breathe a huge sigh of relief, as the UN just rejected a bid by Australia to revoke the heritage status of Tasmania’s rainforest. Australia wants to start logging in one of the last temperate rain forests on the planet – the Tasmanian Wilderness – which was added to the World Heritage List over 30 years ago. But after hearing arguments from both sides, the UN unanimously decided to protect the fragile ecosystem.
The rainforest itself takes up a fifth of the Tasmanian island and the area under discussion involved 44 percent of a protected 420,000 acres of area added to the World Heritage List in 2013. Now, as part of an attempt to benefit the timber industry and the local economy, some people want to revoke the protected status. Those arguing against delisting the area called the opposing arguments “feeble.”
Australia’s government was disappointed by the UNs decision and pledged to examine the decision and decide where to go from there. Environmentalists, however, look at the UN’s decision as a win for the environment. “This is a great win for the forests, for wildlife and for Tasmania,” said Australian Greens Leader Christine Milne. Thousands of Australians showed up to add their voices against delisting the site prior to the hearing. The next step is securing funding to maintain the area, which some hope will come from the Australian government and from UNESCO, to help preserve the hard-won land.