UNESCO says all of Tasmanian forest to stay protected

Jun 23, 2014
Approximately 5,000 Tasmanians attend a rally to oppose the delisting of Tasmania's World Heritage forests in Hobart, Tasmania on June 14, 2014

The UN's cultural body on Monday rejected a controversial Australian attempt to revoke World Heritage status for parts of the Tasmanian Wilderness, which would have opened them up to loggers.

Delegates at UNESCO's World Heritage Committee voted to turn down the request at a gathering in Doha, where they are considering additions and changes to the UN list of cultural and natural wonders.

Australia's conservative government asked UNESCO to revoke its World Heritage listing for 74,000 hectares (183,000 acres) of the forest, claiming the area was not pristine.

One of the last expanses of temperate in the world, the forest covers nearly 20 percent, or 1.4 million hectares, of the southern island state.

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott believes too much forest is locked up and favours more access for loggers.

The area slated for delisting is part of 120,000 hectares added last year to the Tasmanian Wilderness area under the previous Labor government—the culmination of a long battle waged by environmentalists.

Up to 5,000 people protested against the attempted de-listing outside Tasmania's state parliament in Hobart on June 14.

Earlier at the Doha gathering UNESCO warned Australia that another of its World Heritage sites—the Great Barrier Reef—could be put on an endangered list if more is not done to protect it.

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