Updated: February 19, 2010
Tasmania's irreplaceable forests
Tasmania is home to the tallest hardwood forests on Earth, with trees reaching nearly 100 metres and living for over 400 years. It is also home to Australia’s greatest tract of temperate rainforest.
Along the eastern boundary of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area, adjacent to incredibly beautiful mountains and alpine regions that are protected, large areas of pristine forests are intentionally left unreserved. These forests, in the valleys of the Styx, Upper Florentine, Middle Huon, Weld and Upper Derwent, have been identified by experts including government bodies as being of World Heritage value in their own right. They help maintain the integrity of the existing protected areas in Tasmania.
Northern and eastern Tasmania contain significant tracts of remnant forests which form crucial habitat for threatened species such as the Tasmanian wedge-tailed eagle and the white goshawk. The giant freshwater crayfish lives in freshwater streams and rivers across northern Tasmania and can grow to a massive 80 centimetres long, making it the largest freshwater crayfish in the world.
Forests & climate change
Tasmania’s forests are some of the most ‘carbon dense’ in the world—keeping millions of tonnes of dangerous carbon locked away. As trees grow they draw in carbon from the atmosphere. This carbon is stored in the trees and in forest debris and soils. Ancient oldgrowth forests like those in the Styx Valley can store up to 1200 tonnes of carbon per hectare.
When forests are logged, much of that carbon is released into the atmosphere, contributing to climate change.
Approximately 15,000 ha of native forest are clearfelled and burnt in Tasmania each year.
Following the clearfelling, the mangled remains of the forest are burnt. These massive fires are ignited by helicopters dropping a napalm-like substance on the forest floor. In autumn each year up to 400 such burns occur. Heavy smoke and haze shroud the sun. This is unsightly, problematic for tourism, uncomfortable for people with respiratory diseases, and ecologically disastrous. It is a major contributor to global warming.
On average 90 per cent of wood removed from Tasmania’s public native forests ends up as woodchips for paper production. The majority of paper products release all their carbon to the atmosphere within three years, worsening global warming.
Protecting forests from logging is one of the cheapest and quickest ways we can help stop dangerous climate change.
High conservation value forests under threat from logging in Tasmania include forests in the Lower Weld Valley, the Upper Florentine, the Styx, the Great Western Tiers, and the North-East Highlands, including the Blue Tier.
You can help by writing to Prime Minister Rudd and Climate Change Minister Penny Wong calling for the immediate protection of Tasmania’s carbon-dense forests.
Gunns’ proposed pulp mill
Gunns Ltd, Australia’s largest woodchipping company, wants to build a massive native-forest-fed pulp mill in the Tamar Valley in the state’s north. If built this pulp mill will consume up to 4.5 million tonnes of wood from native forests and plantations annually for the next 30 years.
For more information, please contact:
The Wilderness Society Tasmania Inc
130 Davey Street, TAS, 7000 Australia
Phone: (03) 6224 1550 | Fax: (03) 6223 5112