It’s a beautiful and dramatic region, with wild rivers, deep gorges and vast rainforests. Here, some of the tallest and oldest trees in the world are being logged for woodchips — irreplaceable virgin forests turned into toilet paper.
The second-largest temperate rainforest in the world is right here in Australia. It’s a safe haven for one of the last wild populations of Tasmanian Devils free of the tumor disease that is threatening the species with extinction.
Tasmania’s Tarkine is Australia’s only wilderness area dominated by rainforest. It is 70% of the total forest cover. More than 90% of this is old-growth forest.
Temperate rainforest is the rarest of rainforests — existing only in fragments in New Zealand, Chile, western Canada and the US. It is more highly threatened than tropical and subtropical rainforests. The Tarkine contains the largest continuous tract of temperate rainforest in Australia, and the second largest in the world.
The Tarkine contains 60 species of flora and fauna which are listed as either threatened or endangered, including the spotted tail quoll, the eastern barred bandicoot and the grey and goshawk bandicoots.
Rainforest timbers have little value as timber trees. Current estimates put the amount of veneer and sawlog taken out of rainforest coupes at less than 10%, the rest going to woodchips. However, the rich basalt soils of the Tarkine make this a very attractive plantation region.
Rainforest is often clearfelled, then burnt and replanted with more commercially viable species. This process of converting unprofitable rainforest is the single biggest cause of species extinction in Australia. Logging pristine rainforest on public land has been banned in all mainland states.
Environment Minister Tony Burke has let the Tarkine’s emergency heritage status expire, and now the mining companies are circling. Let’s protect this treasure before it’s too late!