Weld Valley & Southern Forests
Tasmania is Australia's southern island with far stretching wild lands. On the Eastern border of the South West World Heritage Area is the vast and wild Southern Forests. What does remain of the Southern Forests are ecologically and culturally valuable to the Western Tasmanian wilderness area. Here in this wild country are valleys of ancient landscapes, tall eucalypt rainforest, untamed rivers, karst systems, diverse plant and animal life in a spectacular setting of glaciated highland peaks and lakes. Currently unprotected and being devastated by shocking industrial forestry practices that clearfell, burn and poison large areas, the Southern Forests, are being lost.
Western Tasmania is Australia's greatest temperate wilderness area and one of the world's last. Western Tasmania is the only area in the world which provides the necessary conditions for regeneration both of native conifers such as the King Billy Pine and tall eucalypts. Western Tasmania has the tallest forests in the Southern Hemisphere, Australia's most glaciated landscape, Australia's wildest rivers and some of Australia's largest tracts of cool temperate rainforest. Western Tasmania is largely protected, however the line of protection ends where the tall eucalypt forests start due to their "commercial value".
Many of the glaciers, which occurred between ten thousand and one million years ago in Western Tasmania, formed mountain ranges and highland lakes in the Southern Forests. They had their sources within the existing World Heritage Area, and extended well down the valleys, which today make up the Southern Forests. Deep in these valleys are the wild rivers of the Picton, Weld and Huon. A quality that distinguishes these rivers outside the existing World Heritage Area from those within it, is the mature tall eucalypt forest through which they flow.
Tasmania's forests of Tall eucalypt, unlike many on mainland Australia, tower over cool temperate rainforests, containing many species unique to Western Tasmania, including Leatherwood, Celery-top Pine and Horizontal Scrub. Huon Pine, a remnant of the supercontinent Gondwana, overhang the banks of the Huon and Picton rivers in the Southern Forests and can live for more than 3000 years. The forests of the eucalyptus regnans in the Southern Forests are the world's tallest flowering plants. Old-growth Eucalypts provide important nesting holes for birds and animals such as the Eastern Pygmy Possum, Sugar Glider and Yellow-Tailed' Cockatoo. They also provide important habitat for Tasmania's raptors - such as the Grey Goshawk and, the Wedge-Tailed Eagle.
Karst features in the Southern Forests are among Australia's most spectacular and pristine. A cave in the Southern Forests contains Aboriginal cave painting that dates back over 20000 years a time when glaciers descended to present day sea level on Tasmania's south coast. Bone Cave in the Weld valley contains examples of human occupation that shows the settlement of extremely inhospitable country at the height of the last Ice Age. The Upper Weld-Mt Anne karst system is one of Australia's largest, and includes Australia's deepest cave Anne-a-kananda. It is here that the Weld river flows underground, below an impressive arch.
On a world scale the Southern Forests are clearly outstanding and far more valuable in their natural state than devastated for short term commercial profit. Join our campaign to help protect these incredible places.
Check out our Beyond the Airwalk map of walks in the Southern Forests