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Tasmania

Tasmanian government intervenes in Mt Wellington cable car debate

This is a huge worry. The cable car that has been proposed for kunanyi/ Mount Wellington, in Hobart, which has been looking ever less likely to proceed, has just received a massive boost. The Tasmanian government has announced that it will will acquire land, and enact new land ownership laws to help clear the way for a cable car development application.

This project would cause major visual scarring to the mountain and many localised ecological impacts. It represents an old fashioned ‘Disneyland’ approach to tourism and is widely opposed by the community in Hobart. You can find background information here.

The following is taken from a news report that appeared in The Sunday Tasmanian newspaper on February 25, 2017. Authors are Patrick Billings and Simeon Thomas-Wilson.

Continue reading “Tasmanian government intervenes in Mt Wellington cable car debate”

Slow recovery after Tasmanian fires

Mountain Journal has published a number of stories on the fires that devastated large areas of Tasmania’s high country in 2016. At the time we suggested that the ecological damage would be very long term because of the nature of the high elevation vegetation.

Sadly, that seems to be the case:

The following comes from a news report by the ABC.

A year on from bushfires in Tasmania’s Wilderness World Heritage Area (WHA), some areas are showing signs of recovery but others are not.

Ecologist Professor Jamie Kirkpatrick said once alpine flora such as pencil pines were burnt, they died.

“They haven’t got any seed stores, so there’s no seed in the soil and there’s very seldom seed in the trees themselves, so if you burn the stands you’ll often get rid of them for a very long time period,” he said.

“It’s those plants that actually make it a world heritage area because they’re really highly significant scientifically as paleo endemics from the cretaceous period.”

The fires wiped out plants more than 1,000 years old.

Researchers will travel to Lake Mackenzie next month to gather data about how the landscape is faring.

 

Climate change to make TAS fires more intense and more frequent.

Widespread wildfires in early 2016 caused huge damage across large areas of the Tasmanian World Heritage Area, including significant sections of vegetation which is not fire adapted.

Inquiries into the fires were held during 2016, with a senate inquiry recommending the creation of specialist remote area fire fighting capacity.

The question of how much climate change influenced the extent and severity of the fires has been debated at some length, in the media and the inquiry processes.

This article by Emilie Gramenz from the ABC is a further update on the outcome of the process and the need for further research into the links between fire and climate change. A key message from researchers is that “climate change would likely make future fires more intense and more frequent”.

Continue reading “Climate change to make TAS fires more intense and more frequent.”

Senate inquiry into Tasmanian fires calls for creation of a national remote area firefighting team

The report from the Senate Inquiry into the terrible fires that happened in Tasmania last summer has now been released.

The inquiry looked at ‘responses to, and lessons learnt from, the January and February 2016 bushfires in remote Tasmanian wilderness’. The committee was chaired by Greens Senator Nick McKim.

Probably the key recommendation in the report is the proposal that the state and federal governments should investigate the establishment of a national remote area firefighting team. Coalition committee members dissented, saying informal and formal relationships already exist between the state and federal governments and that the Army is also brought in when needed. However the slow pace at which a number of remote area fires were tackled indicates that there was a shortage of fire fighting resources able to be deployed quickly into remote areas. The devastation of areas such as around Lake McKenzie on the Central Plateau was compounded by the delay in getting fire fighting units into the area.

The Coalition MPs on the committee also disagreed with another call in the inquiry report for Australia to report annually to the UNESCO Wilderness World Heritage committee about the state of conservation within the Tasmanian WWHA.

Other issues raised in the report include the need to ensure adequate funding of research into how climate change will influence fires in the world heritage area. For instance, the committee recommends that the Australian Government recognise the need to enhance protection and conservation efforts in the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area by allocating increased funding:

  • to the Parks and Wildlife Service, Tasmania, for appropriate management activities and resources; and
  • for research projects aimed at providing qualitative and quantitative data specific to climate-related and ecological threats to the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area (such as dry lightning strike). It appears that the frequency of dry lightning strikes has already increased in recent decades.

The final report is available here.

Alpine haven of Daisy Dell gets logging reprieve

Many people who have been into Cradle Valley will have driven past Daisy Dell, on the Middlesex Plains, just to the north and east of the park entry. This is great news: an area earmarked for clear-felling is set to be protected from logging and development forever after a Tasmanian Land Conservancy fundraising campaign. It was originally published in the Sunday Tasmanian on the weekend of Dec 3 & 4, 2016. The journalist is Helen Kempton.

Continue reading “Alpine haven of Daisy Dell gets logging reprieve”

Helicopter tourism in central Tasmania?

On a recent walking trip in Central Tasmania, I drove past an old lodge near Lake Augusta that was being renovated. My immediate reaction was that if someone was throwing lots of money at a restoration of a large building located almost at the end of the road in a remote area, that they must have plans for something big.

This opinion piece by Nicholas Sawyer in The Mercury seems to re inforce that suspicion.

Continue reading “Helicopter tourism in central Tasmania?”

Update on the investigation into 2016 Tasmanian bushfires

Last summer saw some of the worst bushfires in Tasmania for decades. Fire services were overwhelmed and large areas of the World Heritage Area were badly burnt before authorities were able to bring the fires under control.

Fires impacted about 20,100 hectares, or 1.3 per cent, of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area. The worst hit areas included Lake Mackenzie (13,822 hectares), Gordon River Road (3,520 hectares) and Maxwell River South (1,389 hectares).

Continue reading “Update on the investigation into 2016 Tasmanian bushfires”

Tourism in national parks. When is enough enough?

Mountain Journal has previously covered the release of a proposed Master Plan for the Cradle Valley section of the Cradle Mountain Lake St Clair National Park, which was developed by the Cradle Coast Authority. We highlighted some of the positive aspects of the proposal here.

However, a cornerstone of the proposal is a cable car, which would run from a new tourist centre to the north of the park boundary to Crater Lake. The Authority says ‘the Cable Car is the core element of the Cradle Mountain concept.’

A recent article by Nicholas Sawyer in The Mercury provides some thoughtful views about the proposal for a cable car and the broader issue of how tourism interacts with our national parks.

Continue reading “Tourism in national parks. When is enough enough?”

The ‘Cradle Mountain Visitor Experience Master Plan’

Mountain Journal recently reported on the new master plan that was being developed to improve the ‘tourism experience’ at the north end of the Cradle Mountain Lake St Clair National Park. Yes, I’m a grumpy old bushwalker who goes to Cradle Valley because it’s the access point for miles of terrain, rocky mountains, alpine moors and fantastic walking, rather than because I expect a ‘world class tourism experience’ in a national park.

But I do understand that many people expect first class facilities and that’s where the sheer numbers of visitors are. With Cradle Valley visitation declining, it was deemed that something had to be done, and so we have the release of the new master plan for the area, developed by the Cradle Coast Authority, which hopes to increase visitor numbers by 60,000 to 80,000 a year.

Continue reading “The ‘Cradle Mountain Visitor Experience Master Plan’”

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