Everyday Enviro with Elise: protecting Tasmania’s native forests

By Elise Catterall 29 February 2024

Elise dives into the heart of Tasmania's native forests and sheds light on the challenges faced by these invaluable ecosystems.

Tasmania is a state that is internationally recognised for its spectacular wilderness, pristine to near-pristine river systems and lakes, rich flora and fauna (including species endemic to Tasmania) and complex, geo-diverse landscapes. It is a region that demands protection, but urban expansion and logging has often posed a threat to the state's unique and fragile ecosystems and the iconic wildlife that call them home.

The native forests in Tasmania are of immense conservation value as they are home to unique species and are also some of the most carbon-dense forests in the world. However, the logging of these forests has resulted in emissions of about 4.65 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent each year, making it the highest emitter in Tasmania's economy.

This is because native forests are crucial carbon sinks, storing vast amounts of carbon dioxide. The reduction in logging of native forests in Tasmania since 2011, has played a vital role in the state's achievement of negative greenhouse emissions, along with the use of hydroelectricity.

Tasmanian forests are also home to an extraordinary array of endemic species, many of which are already threatened. Habitat reduction causes disruption to these complex ecosystems with far-reaching and unpredictable consequences for the entire web of life.

More evidence of the ecological value of intact forests is that they act as natural filters, maintaining the health of watersheds and ensuring clean water supply. Disrupting these ecosystems can result in soil erosion and sedimentation, polluting rivers and streams, and potentially harming aquatic life. Compromising Tasmania's water resources poses risks to both human communities and sensitive ecosystems.

Sustainable industries operating in Tasmania's forested regions, such as ecotourism and nature-based industries, can offer greater potential for long-term economic growth with minimal environmental impact.

Right now, Tasmania needs us to speak out, no matter where we live in Australia – after all, Tasmania's pristine natural environments are a national treasure and a legacy for future generations of Australians.

In addition to being a voice for change, join a community near you and get your hands dirty by planting some trees this National Tree Day (28 July). By getting involved in community planting projects, you can directly contribute to preserving our natural environment. To run your own community planting project, check out Planet Ark’s tips to help you get started.

Elise Catterall
Elise is a writer, photographer, and naturopath with a passion for nature. She completed a Master of Public Health in 2017 through the University of Sydney. Her photographic work focuses on flowers and plants as a way of celebrating nature. She has been writing for Planet Ark since 2017, sharing positive environment stories, personal environmental experiences and perspectives.