‘A most paradoxical mixture of sound and silence pervades the shady parts of the wood … To a person fond of natural history, such a day as this brings with it a deeper pleasure than he can ever hope to experience again.’ – Charles Darwin on encountering the Gondwanan forests 1833
Two centuries after the ardent explorations of Darwin, most wild areas of rainforest within Western countries across the World are treasured. Yet forlornly in the year 2016 Tasmanians still haven’t come to the realisation that this island holds one of the finest expressions of cool-temperate rainforests on earth.
Representing a living museum in time, the grandeur and matrix of myrtle, sassafras, leatherwood and huon are the dominant make-up of the wondrous Tarkine region. These forests are more than just the largest contiguous tract of rainforest in the nation, they are highly aesthetic, and a natural splendour of immense global and biological significance that host ongoing ecological processes.
The Tarkine’s superlative forests evolved towards the end of the Cretaceous period when the Southern super-continent was still joined. More than 65 million years later Tasmanians are fortunate to share this marvel with their Gondwanan relatives from New Zealand and Patagonia.
Back in the 1980’s the Tasmanian Forestry Commission advocated the protection of the Savage River rainforests, and today most of the core rainforest reaches of the Tarkine are already in formal reserves, albeit unprotected from resource extraction. So why isn’t this grand tract of rainforest secure considering that it was identified as to fulfil IUCN World Heritage criteria almost three decades ago.
Mining activity is no newcomer to Western Tasmania.
Over the past 150 years the greater Tarkine region has been ferreted for its mineral secrets in the belief that the island’s Eldorado exists out there somewhere. Although these almost mythical rivers of gold were never found, the region’s mineral potential has seen an endless exploration activity from prospectors and speculators ever since European settlement penetrated into the Western wilderness of this island.
Even to this day the Eldorado dream lingers on, fully supported by all tiers of governance and often heavily subsidised through the taxpayers’ pockets.
This has proved to be more about sustaining employment opportunities rather than economic returns to Tasmanians.
Very little has changed since half a century ago when Tasmania’s then premier Eric Reece said: “ as long as there is 2 cents of tin out there to be found then these areas will never be a national park” .
On the contrary, given the current predictions regarding the world’s mineral economic decline due to slow global development growth, and concurrently the lack of demand for Australia’s high-priced ore exports, then most of the existing or proposed mines in the region may either cease to exist or fail to get initiated over the next half-decade.
With global concerns regarding ongoing climate change and the relative carbon-emission issues, regions such the Tarkine may be indentified in the near future to be more important as crucial carbon sinks rather than purely being a primeval landscape encompassing high conservation values.
Conservation and carbon sequestration are synonymous, so Tasmania could set an international precedent to preserve the Tarkine forests with this premise in mind.
I have predicted in the past that the greater Takayna region won’t be listed as a World Heritage area for another decade, though a political shift in respecting cultural identity, climate-change politics and progressive conservation policies may streamline that process.
The above map describes the general boundary of extensive gondwanic rainforests that should be protected. The region excludes active and proposed mining sites that would politically preclude any hope of conservation in a secure formal reserve.
*Ted Mead is a committed conservationist, naturalist, ardent photographer, and holistic nature lover. Disillusioned with conformist politics and its erroneous ideology regarding to the protection of our essential earth we dwell in, Ted now spends most of his time amidst the place he enjoys passionately – Out in the Wilds. Ted believes being immersed in nature is what keeps him sane, or questionably in the belief that he at least beholds a semblance of sanity.
• Treeger in Comments: Seems the original article has been buried under forum distractions. Ted poses a solution, one that includes conserving the core of a relatively undisturbed rainforest that all humans marvel at upon experiencing, this at the same time as appeasing resource extraction. As well as doing the right thing for the seven next generations, there are direct benefits for society, such as Art Nature Therapy for the young, disabled and elderly. In fact, any Tasmanian with soul makes efforts to get to places such as these to lift their spirits. All one has to do is look at the demographic of tourists that have come here for decades, rich professional city dwellers from all over the planet. They know the spiritual benefits of being in these places. They are equally dumbfounded that anyone would want to destroy it, but then they don’t know how desperate Tasmanians are for Jobs and Growth.