The Tarkine is one of the great environmental and cultural jewels in Tasmania’s crown.
Growing up in the North West of Tasmania I have always been enamoured by the region, its wild forests and coastline, unique flora and flora, and the sense of well being and wonder I get every time I have the fortune to be in that part of the world. It is now starting to get the recognition it deserves as an extraordinary destination for nature-based tourism, and as the backdrop to the high quality food and beverages that North-West Tasmania excels at producing.
This sense of well being I get from being in the Tarkine is offset by the knowledge the Tarkine is facing increased logging following the passage of the Tasmanian Liberals new Forestry (Rebuilding the Forest Industry) Bill 2014. Approximately 14,000 ha of Tarkine forests and rainforests were left open to logging as part of the Tasmanian Forest Agreement (TFA), and with the passing of the new forest bill this amount will increase. Especially for ‘specialty timbers’ from rainforests.
Thankfully, a falling iron ore price is putting a halt to a couple of the nine proposed mining ventures in the area, including the Shree Minerals, Nelson Bay River mine. I flew over this magnificent area less than 12 months ago to see first-hand what is at stake in the Tarkine and managed to view the Shree site from above.
Shree Minerals is now under investigation for breaching its federal environmental permit. This newly formed company has been allowed to go ahead with commencing operations while failing to address mine waste and rehabilitation plans. It’s believed the Tasmanian Government amended the permit to allow Shree, at the Nelson Bay River Mine, to produce 20 times more acid-producing waste rock than originally declared. The federal Environment Department was not notified or given a chance to model the impacts on threatened species in the area with this increase in acid-forming waste rock.
Australia is on the cusp of our third wave of animal extinctions: the first caused by European arrival, the second by introduced species and now the third by our refusal to address global warming or adequately fund habitat protection and research.
A Tarkine National Park representing the enormously diverse environmental and cultural values of the region would be a step towards protecting the future for the people and the environment of the renowned North West.