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Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Protect Tasmania's Tarkine’s Ancient Frankland River Forests

by Reed Halter, Huffington Post, February 26, 2017

Earth’s remaining ancient forests hold the key to human survival in the 21st century, and nowhere is it more evident than the land Down Under. Already, rising temperature, prolonged heatwaves and droughts have collapsed some ancient forests across the Australian continent including the island state of Tasmania. It’s of paramount importance to protect the remaining intact ancient Aussie forests, in particular in the Tarkine, northeast Tasmania, along the Frankland River.

Frankland River ancient forests are stocked with a rich array of biodiversity. PHOTO CREDIT: BOBBROWN.ORG.AU

Let me tell you why:

These glorious ancient rainforests contain some of the tallest flowering trees on the face of the Earth. They are crucial habitat for rare and endangered species including: Tasmanian devils, spotted tail quolls, the world’s largest freshwater crayfish and Tasmanian Wedge tailed eagles with wingspans of 10 feet.

It’s a one-of-a-kind temperate rainforest ecosystem, which is bathed with the cleanest air on the globe from the roaring 40s winds. It’s home to more than 130 different kinds of birds. These ancient rainforests are indeed worthy of a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage Listing.

Once this opulent rainforest ecosystem is bulldozed, which is slated to begin within weeks, habitat destruction will lead to the senseless death of magnificent rainforest creatures.

The Frankland River rainforests are priceless intact ecosystems providing children with life-sustaining oxygen and the lifeblood of the planet, its fresh water. In fact, for each metric ton of wood in the ancient Frankland River forests, those trees removed 1.5 metric tons of heat-trapping carbon dioxide. In addition, those colossal cathedrals of wood released one metric ton of oxygen for every metric ton of wood grown.

Ancient forests are invaluable carbon dioxide warehouses.

For 36 years, I have witnessed the destruction of ancient forests from all corners of the world. Not only is it devastating for the animals, the fresh water supply and the falling atmospheric oxygen content, but also because all ancient forests contain a cornucopia of potent pain, heart and cancer medicines awaiting discovery.

The accelerated global destruction of nature, the life force of the planet, is without a doubt an assault on every child because it’s their birthright to have clean air, clean water, healthy soils, vibrant ancient forests and thriving oceans. The current subsidized economic model of resource exploitation is hastening the demise of the human race and taking 1.1 billion years of evolution with it.

The fact that the current Tasmanian government, lead by Premier Will Hodgman, plans to unlock 880,000 acres of pristine ancient state forests, set aside in 2011, is a pitiful reminder of lawmakers mismanaging ancient forests to benefit a handful of power-wielding logging companies.

“In 1888, the Tasmanian government legislated a bounty to ‘extirpate’ the Tasmanian tiger. That succeeded,” said legendary Australian conservationist Dr Bob Brown. “In 2017, the Tasmanian government is subsidizing loggers to destroy the habitats of rare species like the Tasmanian devil, Swift parrot and giant freshwater lobster. Unless we act, history will repeat itself.”

The argument that logging creates more jobs for corporations like Ta Ann and community stability is flawed. Once the ancient rainforests are logged, mills close, leaving nature desecrated, millions of animals homeless and communities impoverished. British Columbia, and its dwindling forestry sector, is a case in point.

What Premier Will Hodgman fails to understand is that, after decades of forestry conflicts and an intergovernmental agreement in 2011 to protect them, Tasmanians love their ancient rainforests especially those in the Tarkine.

Dr Lisa Searle, who is holding a canopy vigil for the coming week, is urging the Federal Environment Minister, Premier Hodgman, and Forestry Tasmania to abandon plans to log these forests. PHOTO CREDIT: BOBBROWN.ORG.AU

When you love something, you protect it!

Help save these majestic ancient Frankland River rainforests by supporting the Bob Brown Foundation and ActionForTarkine.

Dr Reese Halter is a distinguished forest biologist. His upcoming book is “Save Nature Now.”

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