Specialty timber workers want access to Tassie World Heritage forests

Specialty timber workers such as boat builders say their cultural heritage should be recognised by UNECSO and they should have access to Tasmania's Wilderness World Heritage Area (TWWHA).

The ABC reports that the Tasmanian craft workers claim their cultural heritage should be recognised in the same way that the state’s Indigenous heritage is recognised.

As such, the timber workers want access to about 9,000 hectares of the TWHA.

"Tasmania has a very long European history in the woodcraft industry and we have a substantial intangible cultural heritage," Kettering boat builder Andrew Denman told the ABC.

He claimed there are not enough specialty trees outside the TWWHA to sustain that heritage.

"I would strongly call on the Wilderness Society and the other [environmental non-government organisations] who are lobbying against access to the timber in those areas to publicly show that the areas [outside the World Heritage] to supply our industry can actually do that," he added.

That claim is contested by environmentalists.

"There is more specialty timber in the production forest area than what they're saying they need out of the World Heritage Area," said Environment Tasmania's spokesman Andrew Perry.

UNESCO is investigating the value of the TWWHA to Indigenous Tasmanians. The organisation has asked the federal and state governments to provide it with information on the subject.

The Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre's State Secretary Trudy Maluga dismissed the comparison between her community’s connection to the area and that of timber workers.

 "It is a bit trivial in comparison to thousands of years, but of course they do have their perspective and I wish them luck with Premier Will Hodgman," she said.

Richard Colbeck, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Federal Minister for Agriculture, signalled the Government may back the timber workers’ bid.

Image: ABC