Federal Environment Minister Tony Burke has rejected a National Heritage listing for Tasmania's Tarkine region, opening the area for mining and exploration development.
The ruling follows a long battle over development in the region, with environmental groups campaigning to have further mining activity banned.
In announcing his decision Burke said while the Tarkine would not receive environmental National Heritage it would be protected under Aboriginal heritage.
Burke said the decision was a compromise to balance both sides of the debate.
“I simply haven't been able to find a way to recognise the natural heritage values with a boundary that will find a balance,” he said.
“For this reason I have decided to only put the indigenous values on the national heritage list.”
Greens leader Christine Milne said she was “devastated” by the decision.
“If anyone has any doubt as to who is running the environment portfolio in Australia the answer is very clear: the mining industry,” she said.
Mining companies looking at developing the Tarkine region include Shree Minerals, which wants to build twin iron magnetite projects, and Beacon Hill Resources, which is also exploring for magnetite.
Venture Minerals is exploring for tin, tungsten and magnetite deposits.
Burke's decision has drawn praise from local MP Sid Sidebottom, who has campaigned to encourage mining in the Tarkine in order to boost Tasmania's ailing economy.
Conservationists say the Tarkine is the second largest intact stretch of rainforest in the world, and is home to more than 60 rare, threatened, and endangered species.
Australian Mining wrote an in-depth feature about mining in the Tarkine late last year. You can read more on the debate here.