Tasmanians organise to save the Tarkine

Wednesday, September 18, 1991

By Rohan Gaiswinkler
and Teresa Dowding

HOBART — The first meeting for action to preserve the Tarkine took place here on September 9. Located in the rugged north west of Tasmania, the Tarkine encompasses several national estate areas recommended for World Heritage listing by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.

It includes the Savage River Rainforest, which is the largest single tract of temperate rainforest in Australia. Tens of thousands of hectares of this area are threatened by the Field Labor government's proposed resource security legislation.

Other smaller areas of high conservation value are also threatened by logging, as well as mining, grazing and the uncontrolled use of four wheel drive vehicles.

Clear-felling and cable logging operations are already encroaching on several areas of the Tarkine.

Stretches of pristine rainforest are interrupted by blackened scars, the wasteland left by logging operations. The Sumac Rivulet rainforest is now almost entirely encircled by logging.

Cable logging is a particular threat. It allows steep ridges to be stripped of trees, so that the lower regions can be felled more easily. The best timber is dragged out, while the rest is simply burnt. The Forestry Commission calls this "regeneration".

The Tarkine was named after the local Aboriginal people, whose middens, up to 10 metres high, are found along the coast. The region includes diverse ecosystems ranging from temperate rainforest with myrtles, sassafras and horizontal scrub, to the sand dunes, lagoons and heath of the coastal fringe of the Norfolk Range.

The newly formed organising group has begun a letter writing campaign and is planning protests against resource security legislation and cable logging. It will also fight to protect the specific wilderness areas that are threatened.

Many members of the group were motivated to act by a recent visit to the Tarkine area. Another trip to the Tarkine is planned for later this year.

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