Media release: Doctors alarmed by the destruction of takayna/ Tarkine call for a stop to logging 

Tasmanian doctors have today called for an urgent halt to destructive logging of the Sumac forests of the takayna/Tarkine, as conservationists step up protests against proposed logging in the area.  Medical group Doctors for the Environment Australia says that damage to the takayna/Tarkine is not only an environmental issue but one which affects the health and wellbeing of all Tasmanians. 

 Spokesperson for DEA Tasmania Dr Lydia Birch says, “The short-sighted plans to log takayna/Tarkine’s ancient, unique and world-class forests is an outrageous act of vandalism. 

 “Forests are essential to our survival. They purify the air we breathe and the water we drink; they maintain the health of our soils. 

 “They contribute to physical and mental health as they provide opportunities for recreation, with time spent in nature benefiting the health of our patients by reducing psychological stress and physical stress. 

 “Forests also provide a rich source of medicinal plants; with over half of all medicines in use today derived from nature, but less than 10% of the world’s biodiversity has been evaluated for potential biological activity.

 “Of critical importance, our native forests absorb carbon dioxide and help to curb climate change -- a threat to health so great that the Australian Medical Association (AMA) recently declared climate change a health emergency.

 “The short-sighted plans to log takayna/Tarkine will also threaten the region’s rich Aboriginal heritage which has great cultural significance, degrade natural values of the area, and will potentially be detrimental to future economic benefits to North-West Tasmanians through lost eco-tourism revenues. 

 DEA Tasmania urges: 
  •  That the Tasmanian State Government rescind, without delay, plans to log coupes in the takayna/Tarkine bio-region, and for future forestry operations there to be suspended. 
  •  The establishment of a takayna/Tarkine National Park to fully protect this region’s outstanding natural World Heritage values to benefit the health of our patients and to address endemic economic disadvantage by stimulating tourism spending in the region. 
  •  The Tasmanian Government recommend to the Federal Environment Minister Sussan Ley the inclusion of the takayna/Tarkine bio-region on the Australian government’s National Heritage list, in line with recent recommendations of the Australian Heritage Council. 

“The protection of the takayna/Tarkine forest with its many health, environmental, cultural and economic benefits is of utmost urgency, and must be prioritised over any short-term commercial interests,” says Dr Birch. 

“We must act decisively to avert catastrophic global heating, and we consider all actions to be significant at this late stage of the Climate Emergency. -- at stake is the health of our patients and the health of the planet on which we depend for survival.” 

Media Contact 

Dr Lydia Birch, Vice President, DEA Tasmania 

Dr  Fiona Beer, Chair, DEA Tasmanian Chair  

Please contact Media and Communications Coordinator Carmela Ferraro on 0410 703 074

About DEA 

Doctors for the Environment Australia (DEA) is an independent non-government organisation of medical doctors in all Australian states and territories. Our members represent all specialties in community, hospital and private practice. We work to minimise public health impacts and address the diseases – local, national and global – caused by damage to our natural environment. 

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