Loss of UNESCO world heritage site is on all our shoulders

An article in yesterday’s Guardian caught my attention. One of the last remaining Gondwanaland forests is being destroyed as wildfires ravaging Tasmania turn 1,000 year old trees to ash.

It’s tragic to see our last living link to a Gondwanaland — a continent that broke away from Pangea 180 million years ago — destroyed before our eyes. The importance of these forests was recognized when they were included in the Gondwana Rainforests of Australia UNESCO World Heritage site.  But simply designating a site doesn’t protect it.

Over the past year, our TV screens have been filled with images of other World Heritage sites being destroyed. Images of Taliban and ISIS rockets slamming into ancient statues. It’s hard viewing and everyone is quick to condemn. It’s also easy to rationalize that we’d never do that – we’d protect precious sites like this.  But do we?

What’s happening in Tasmania shows we don’t. We are responsible for this one – all of us.

Unlike many forest types, this one is not adapted to fire. A perfect storm of climatic events dried out this normally damp forest and a dry lightning storm then ignited it. These are all natural events, but their confluence is driven and amplified by climate change. And the only way to prevent further loss is for all of us to feel responsible and act now.

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