UN refuses to shrink Tasmanian Wilderness area

The UNESCO World Heritage Committee yesterday took only seven minutes to reject an application by the Abbott Government to reduce the size of the Tasmanian Wilderness. The protected area was expanded by UNESCO last year, and the government sought to return to the previous boundary, in order to allow logging to resume. No member nation spoke in favour of the proposal, but Portugal spoke against, saying, “The justifications presented to the reduction are to say the least feeble.” The world heritage status of Tasmania’s forests has been politically sensitive since it was first listed by the UN in December 1982. Only a few months later, the Hawke Government ratified the listing with the World Heritage Properties Conservation Act 1983 (Cth), in order to prevent the Tasmanian government building  the Franklin Dam. In the Tasmanian Dam case, the High Court adopted a broad interpretation of “external affairs” and upheld the dam ban.