Tarkine Rainforest in Australia under threat from mining companies

By Nikki Bruce - 28 Mar 2011 18:13:0 GMT
Tarkine Rainforest in Australia under threat from mining companies

One of Australia's finest national parks, the Tarkine National Park is currently struggling to fend off various threats from mining companies it has been announced in a press release by The Tarkine National Coalition.

The Tarkine is one of the world's remaining expanses of temperate rainforest and stretches for more than 70 kilometres, incorporating the Rapid, Keith, Donaldson and Savage river systems.

It was once a part of the ancient Gondwana supercontinent which broke away millions of years ago and is now located in parts from Australia and New Zealand to Madagascar and South Africa. The Tarkine also provides a sanctuary for many rare and endangered species of animals and plants.

The Tarkine has had to deal with threats before and hasn't always emerged unscathed. Large sections of the rainforest are open to logging and a vast majority of the areas that aren't being used for logging are owned by Forestry Tasmania, a logging agency owned by the state which once had plans to build the Tarkine road through the forest in 2009.

In response to this proposal the forest was given the Emergency Listing heritage protection to prevent the destruction of this valuable resource.  The Australian Heritage Council also recommended a National Heritage Listing for the rainforest, recognising the values and importance of the Tarkine. It suggested that a further 434,000 hectares of land should be protected under the listing.

In a controversial and unpopular act by the current Australian minister for the Environment and Heritage, Tony Burke, the Emergency Listing for the Tarkine Rainforest has been left to expire. In a statement made to the press Burke said that the Australian Heritage Council would not be able to make their decision regarding the heritage status of the forest until at least 18 months into the future. A statement which was subsequently proven to be false when the report by the AHC was accidently released on a government website.

The proposition by three mining companies to open new mines within the forest has been revealed as the latest blow to the park. The mining companies are Tasmania Magnesite (Beacon Hill Resources) which wants to open a mine in the section containing the Keith River, Shree Minerals which is aiming for the Nelson Bay River area and Venture Minerals which wishes to operate at Mount Lindsay.

It is feared that delaying the petition for a National Heritage Listing on the forest could mean that when the case is finally reviewed much of the Tarkine's features will have been destroyed and it will no longer fit the criteria needed for the listing. The Tarkine National Coalition has accused Minister Burke of putting the interests of the miners above his ''obligations to the environment''.