The North East Forest Alliance today welcomed the commitments by the NSW opposition leader Luke Foley and Queensland Government to inscribe the additional qualifying forests on the World Heritage list as part of the Gondwana Rainforests of Australia.
The assessment and protection of World heritage was meant to happen in the Regional Forest Agreements. Having failed to deliver, the 1999 NSW Forest Agreements and 2000 North East Regional Forest Agreement committed NSW to undertake studies of rainforest and to nominate additional qualifying areas of reserves for World Heritage Listing as extensions by 1 April 2001. This was not completed until 2009.
They also committed to identify qualifying eucalypt and Aboriginal dreaming sites by 2002, though this still has not been done.
In 2010 the NSW, Queensland and the Commonwealth Governments submitted a Tentative List of 689,364 hectares, including 459,739 ha of NSW national parks, to the World Heritage Centre which were proposed for future nomination as additions to the Gondwana Rainforests of Australia World Heritage area on the basis of rainforest values. See: http://www.nefa.org.au/world_heritage
“NEFA had long battles to protect many of these forests. These involved numerous blockades, public debates, court cases and prolonged negotiations over 15 years. That many of these areas were assessed as being worthy additions to the World Heritage is testimony to our claims and vindication of our battles” said NEFA spokesperson Dailan Pugh.
“It took two blockades and a court case to stop the logging of rainforests at North Washpool. It took a decade of community blockades and campaigns to complete the protection of the forests of the Mount Warning caldera, at Whian Whian, Mount Jerusalem, Mebbin and Wollumbin. Many of these forests now being proposed for listing have a similar story.
“We have been waiting for over 15 years for the promised nomination and listing to be completed” Mr. Pugh said.
“While they have been protected as national parks, they have not yet had their international significance recognised by formal inclusion on the World Heritage List,” said NEFA spokesperson John Corkill.
“We urge that the nomination include the promised assessment of our world heritage eucalypt forests. These include many of the oldgrowth forests we also battled to protect.
“It took two blockades, hundreds of arrests, three court cases and years of campaigning to protect the Chaelundi oldgrowth. The judge described these forests as “a veritable forest dependent zoo, probably unparalleled in south-eastern Australia”, they too deserve inscription on the World Heritage list.
“We call upon NSW Premier Mike Baird and Prime Minister Tony Abbott to match this promise by Luke Foley and the Queensland Governments to complete the nomination and protection of our world heritage forests” Mr. Corkill said.
“Visitation to north-east NSW’s reserves has been conservatively assessed as generating a business turnover of some $450 million and some 2,800 direct and indirect jobs in the regional economy. Increased recognition of their values will increase tourism and the significant economic benefits they already provide” Mr. Pugh added.