Date: Tue, 4 Feb 2003 23:06:19 -0800
Report to International World Heritage Committee Slams Forestry Fires and Logging
Tasmanian World Heritage Area is in danger from bushfire caused by spark from Picton logging machinery.
Society has prepared a report to the international World Heritage Committee condemning the damage and threats to Tasmania's
World Heritage Area from logging and associated wildfires.
The preparation of the report follows the escape last week
of a fire in the Picton valley that was caused by a spark from logging machinery. Sensitive alpine vegetation in the Tasmanian
Wilderness World Heritage Area (TWWHA) is in danger of being incinerated by the fire, according to the Wilderness Society.
The report will be considered as part of the official five-yearly review of the World Heritage Area carried out by
Unesco's World Heritage Centre on behalf of the World Heritage Committee.
The Society's Campaign Coordinator, Geoff
Law, has called for a halt to logging operations on fire-warning days.
"The Picton fire is within 400 metres of the boundary
of the World Heritage Area, in steep forested country," he said. "Sensitive alpine vegetation in the Hartz Mountains National
Park is literally right in the firing line."
"In the early 1990s, Government experts and consultants warned about the
fire risk associated with forestry operations in the East Picton. These reports were ignored and the logging has gone ahead."
In 1994, Professor Jamie Kirkpatrick, in an official report to the Federal Government, warned "these (East Picton)
coupes present a hazard to the values of the TWWHA through fire escape from regeneration burning, because of their position
downslope, and to the northwest of, remnants of fire-sensitive vegetation in the Hartz Mountains important under (World Heritage)
The Picton burn follows the Mt Saddleback bushfire of two weeks ago, in which a spark from logging machinery
ignited a blaze that incinerated over 600 hectares of country in the state's north-east.
While Forestry Tasmania appears
to be referring to that fire as the "Saddleback Plantation fire", it actually burnt mostly native forest. It started in a
logging operation taking place in native forests.
"On days of high fire danger, the loggers should simply down tools,"
Mr Law said. "Forestry prescriptions have clearly been inadequate to prevent the outbreak of wildfires on days of horrendous
Further information: Geoff Law (03) ...., 0409 944891.
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