After years of fighting to preserve old growth forests in the Australian island state of Tasmania, environmental activists are claiming victory. With the sanction of the Australian government, the World Heritage Foundation is claiming 200,000 hectares of the forest to be preserved, while other, less endangered areas will be used for logging to appease the industry. The compromise is considered a win by both sides of the argument. The Australian Greens, a political party in Australia, can finally take a breath.
A campaign to protect the forest has been going on-and-off since 1989, led by Greens leaders Bob Brown and Christine Milne. The campaign fired up again in 2011 when one dedicated environmentalist, Melinda Gibson, began what became a 457 day stay in a eucalyptus tree. Gibson was
forced out of the tree in March due to the threat of wild fires, but her high profile stint in the tree created a lot of media attention that helped the group promote the cause and raise awareness. The latest efforts also had high support from Australian Environment Minister Tony Burke, who noted that the forests were among the “most amazing places on Earth”.
Several of the new conservation areas in the forest hold the highest concentration of eucalyptus trees in the world. It has been threatened with logging for several decades and many feel that threat is relieved now that the forest has achieved the highest level of protection possible. It seems the Tasmanian Greens will now focus their attention on protecting the Tarkine Rainforest from mining operations through protest and political action.