Monday, November 28, 2011

The Tarkine wilderness deserves World Heritage Protection now

Dear Minister Burke,

I am writing to ask you to immediately place the Tarkine on the National Heritage List, to ensure that any impacts to national heritage values from the mining proposals currently are properly assessed.

I visited the Tarkine for an extended bushwalk in 2003.  The natural heritage values were obvious and very signficant, including remote coast line, aboriginal relics and massive sand dunes.  Unfortunately, degradation was occuring right in front of our with four wheel drive and all terrain vehicles and trail bikes traversing the highest sand dunes and frequently driving over aboriginal middens.  Cattle grazing was having a signficant impact too.  Their excrement was contaminating creeks, they were causing severe erosion along much of the coast line and they were spreading noxious weeds such as thistles.

You can view photos of our trip here:

As you know, the Tarkine has been under consideration for heritage listing since 2004, and while the Australian Heritage Council is finalising its advice to you, the priceless values of the Tarkine may be lost forever unless you grant it an emergency heritage listing.

If you do not list the Tarkine, only potential impacts to federally listed threatened species will be considered, and there will be no assessment or protection for the Tarkine’s renowned wilderness, geological, cultural, flora and fauna diversity and natural history values. None of these matters will be assessed by the state government.

The Tarkine is the last disease-free refuge for the endangered Tasmanian Devil. Because the Tarkine is not on the National Heritage List, damage as a result of mining exploration, including extensive roading and clearing for test drill sites has not been subject to any environmental impact assessment - yet your government has previously recognized that roading poses a significant threat to the Tasmanian Devil, and granted emergency heritage listing for this reason. Why won’t you do so now?

I call upon you as Environment Minister to use the powers available to you to ensure that the Tarkine and the Tasmanian Devil are afforded the highest level of protection. Please place the Tarkine on the National Heritage List, or provide me with the reasons why you as Environment Minister are placing the interests of mining ahead of conservation.

Peter Campbell

Tarkine photos

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