Media release: Doctors’ open letter to the Premier of Tasmania: logging is a health hazard  


Dear Premier Gutwein, Doctors for the Environment Australia (DEA) is alarmed at the resumption of old growth logging in the North West of Tasmania, as it imperils community health. We urge the State Government to cancel plans to log coupes in the takayna/Tarkine bio-region including Que Road, and for future forestry operations there to be suspended. There is no justification for ongoing logging in the face of the climate crisis and accelerating loss of forests to bushfire and other human activities. 

As old-growth forests are a major carbon sink, keeping natural forest ecosystems intact is an essential component of keeping carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere. 

Doctors’ organisations, including DEA  the Australian Medical Association and many medical colleges, have stated that the effects of the changing climate on human health constitute a health emergency. 

 Forests support the health and well-being of human communities in numerous other ways. They filter the air we breathe and the water we drink, and maintain the soil health. Forests have a cooling effect on atmosphere and are an integral part of the water cycle. They provide natural spaces for recreation and relaxation that benefits physical and psychological health. 

 Mature and biodiverse forests fulfil all of these functions more effectively than young, degraded or plantation forests. 

 Despite the vital role of forests in maintaining a healthy environment, they are being lost to us at an increasing rate. Over 18 million hectares of land, primarily forest, burned in bushfires this summer in Australia. 

 Left intact, Tasmania’s remaining old growth forests are a precious resource. Any short term commercial or political gains that may accrue from logging are outweighed by the health, environmental, cultural and economic benefits of leaving these forests standing undisturbed. 

 Doctors for the Environment Australia therefore urges:

 • That the Tasmanian State Government rescinds, without delay, plans to log coupes in the takayna/Tarkine bio-region including Que Road, 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. This will directly and indirectly benefit the health of Tasmanian communities, and would also address endemic economic disadvantage by stimulating tourism spending in the region. 

 • The Tasmanian Government recommends 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 Tasmanian Government to commit to no further logging in forests earmarked as Future Potential Production Forests (FPPF). 

• The Tasmanian Government to support forestry workers transition to new career opportunities, by investing in sustainable low carbon industries in the region. 

 DEA welcomes your acknowledgement of the importance of action on global heating that you have made evident by assuming the role of Minister for Climate Change. 

 This must inevitably be accompanied by an appreciation of the vital role played by forest eco-systems and the need to preserve them. 

 The time has come for your government to abandon the societal divisions and the environmental harm created by the logging of old growth forests, and show leadership in uniting Tasmanians around the potential of the state to be a world-leader in climate action.   

Media inquiries

To arrange an interview with Tasmanian spokespeople Drs Lydia Birch and Kristine Barnden, please contact DEA's Media and Communications Coordinator Carmela Ferraro on 0410 703 074

About DEA 

DEA is an independent organisation of medical doctors protecting health through care of the environment http://dea.org.au We are supported by a Scientific Advisory Committee of distinguished health experts: Prof Stephen Boyden AM, Prof Emeritus Chris Burrell AO, Prof Colin Butler, Prof Peter Doherty AC, Prof Michael Kidd AM, Prof David de Kretser AC, Prof Stephen Leeder AO, Prof Ian Lowe AO, Prof Robyn McDermott, Prof Lidia Morawska, Prof Peter Newman AO, Prof Emeritus Sir Gustav Nossal AC, Prof Hugh Possingham, Prof Lawrie Powell AC, Prof Fiona Stanley AC, Dr Rosemary Stanton OAM, Dr Norman Swan 


Can you support our open letter to Premier Peter Gutwein?

You can help protect the takayna/Tarkine by writing an email or phoning Premier Gutwein:

premier@dpac.tas.gov.au

Hobart Office: 

Level 9, 15 Murray Street HOBART, TAS 7000 Phone: (03) 6165 7650 

 Electorate Office: 

Ground Floor, Public Building 53 St John Street LAUNCESTON, TAS 7250 Phone: (03) 6777 1007


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