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World Heritage

UNESCO pushes back against the privatisation of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area 

Many thousands of people campaigned for years to see the best areas of wild Tasmania protected in national parks, World Heritage and other conservation reserves. However, the current Liberal state government continues its efforts to open up these areas to commercial development via tourism ventures.

While the plans for a ‘helicopter’ tourism venture at Lake Malbena on the Central Plateau has been generating a lot of community opposition, a range of other, lesser known projects are also being pursued by a number of developers.

There has been a recent meeting of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) which considered the ‘In Danger’ listing of the Great Barrier Reef. The Australian government’s efforts to avoid this listing received a huge amount of coverage. There was another issue which got far less coverage, but which includes some much better news.

UNESCO has put the government on notice over it’s privatisation agenda: any development that impacts upon the World Heritage Area’s Outstanding Universal Values must be referred back to the Committee for review.

Continue reading “UNESCO pushes back against the privatisation of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area “

Lessons from the Tasmanian fires of 2018/19: state has entered a ‘new era of bushfire risk’

Over the summer of 2018/19 huge fires burnt across Tasmania. An independent review of Tasmania’s management of the summer bushfires was released in August 2019. It found inadequacies in the response to the fire burning near Geeveston, and revealed that crews withdrew from the Gell River fire in Tasmania’s southwest in the mistaken belief it was out. The fire then expanded again and became out of control.

The report made a series of recommendations

Now, a comprehensive study examining the 2018/19 and the experience of authorities and affected groups by Insurance Group Zurich has found that the state has entered a ‘new era of bushfire risk’.

“Since the turn of the millennium, climate change and land use change have converged to bring about a new fire regime in Tasmania,” Zurich’s first Australian Post-Event Review Capability (PERC) report said.

More than two thousand dry lightning strikes hit the state during that summer, igniting 70 fires that formed into four massive fire complexes. Over 95,000 hectares of protected land was burnt.

Continue reading “Lessons from the Tasmanian fires of 2018/19: state has entered a ‘new era of bushfire risk’”

Mixed reactions to release of the Tourism Master Plan for the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area

The long-awaited Tourism Master Plan (TMP) for the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area (TWWHA) has now been released by the new Parks Minister for Tasmania, Jacquie Petrusma. Given the many attempts by the Tasmanian government to promote commercial tourism in Wilderness and World Heritage Areas, there is a lot resting on this plan.

Continue reading “Mixed reactions to release of the Tourism Master Plan for the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area”

National poll finds overwhelming support for protecting Australia’s wilderness

As a number of state governments continue to pursue commercial tourism options  in national parks and World Heritage Areas, a recent poll shows that these moves are out of step with community opinion. A Roy Morgan poll has found 90% of Australians support the protection of Australia’s wilderness areas. Of significance is the fact that support is high across the political spectrum, with 86% of Coalition voters, 92% of Labor voters and 94% of Greens voters agreeing wilderness should be protected.

Continue reading “National poll finds overwhelming support for protecting Australia’s wilderness”

Development proposals for wilderness areas have not been disclosed to the public

Many thousands of people campaigned for years to see the best areas of wild Tasmania protected in national parks, World Heritage and other conservation reserves. However, the current state government continues its efforts to open up these areas to commercial development via tourism ventures.

While the plans for a ‘helicopter’ tourism venture at Lake Malbena on the Central Plateau has been generating a lot of community opposition, a range of other, lesser known projects are also being pursued by a number of developers.

Emily Baker, reporting for the ABC says that ‘documents obtained by the ABC show the Tasmanian government has received almost 60 proposals for tourism developments in wilderness areas, but only 30 have been disclosed to the public’.

Continue reading “Development proposals for wilderness areas have not been disclosed to the public”

Kooparoona Niara (Great Western Tiers) National Park Proposed

The most recent additions to the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area (TWWHA) in 2013 included thirty six thousand hectares of land previously allocated to forestry activities, a large number of small Regional Reserves and Conservation Areas, and some other tenures.

The state government is currently proposing that some (not all) of the forestry land be added to existing Regional Reserves and Conservation Areas. There is a chance for the community to provide input. The Tasmanian National Parks Association (TNPA) is calling on the state government to think big and establish the Kooparoona Niara (Great Western Tiers) National Park.

Continue reading “Kooparoona Niara (Great Western Tiers) National Park Proposed”

‘Identifying the benefits’ of a new track system in the Tyndall Range

In 2019, the Tasmanian premier, Will Hodgman, announced that ‘Tasmania’s wild West Coast’ had been chosen as the preferred location for the state’s next ‘Iconic Walk’.

The area selected is the remote Tyndall Range. This ‘iconic walk’ will be similar to the Overland and Three Capes Tracks, where private hut networks have been built and tours are run by commercial operators. The Range is known for its rock climbing on conglomerate cliffs up to 300m in height, glacial lakes and substantial alpine areas and ‘out of the way’ nature. The plan to introduce a commercial operation is being opposed by many in the community.

The Tasmanian Parks and Wildlife Service (PWS) is currently exploring options to develop the walk.  The Project is still in the feasibility study stage. The PWS is seeking community assistance through a survey to ‘identify the benefits’ you think will arise from this project, so that the feasibility study ‘can be as comprehensive as possible’.

Continue reading “‘Identifying the benefits’ of a new track system in the Tyndall Range”

Increase in lightning strikes expected to ignite more wildfires

Lightning strikes are one of the main causes of wildfire in Australia. As the planet’s temperature warms, the frequency of lightning strikes is expected to grow with it.

Currently, lightning strikes the earth’s surface nearly eight million times a day. This number is expected to ‘dramatically increase’ as global temperatures rise, according to a study published by Science. The U.S., for example, could experience a 50% increase in the number of lightning strikes by the end of the century, if greenhouse gas emissions are not curbed.

This increase is already being felt in Australia and has implications for how we plan for, and fight fire. Because they start from a single point, lightning caused fires are initially small and can be easily contained before they turn into blazes, if there are ground crews or planes or helicopters available. As was shown by last summer’s fires, in a bad season, we simply don’t have enough resources to do this.

Continue reading “Increase in lightning strikes expected to ignite more wildfires”

Speak up for the people who manage our parks

Our national parks rely on parks staff on so many levels, from managing tourism to fighting fires. Sadly, in Tasmania, austerity measures have been imposed on Department of Primary Industry, Parks, Water & the Environment (DPIPWE) employees, which includes park rangers and other Parks and Wildlife Service (PWS) staff.

Please add your voice and oppose the cut backs.

Continue reading “Speak up for the people who manage our parks”

Helicopter tourism at Lake Malbena will ‘significantly and adversely impact wilderness character’ of area

The long campaign against a plan for helicopter-based tourism at Lake Malbena on the Central Plateau in Tasmania has received a welcome boost. The Commonwealth Environment Minister, Sussan Ley, has released a ‘Statement of Reasons’ explaining why she determined that the proposed helicopter-accessed luxury accommodation will be a “controlled action”, requiring a more thorough assessment under the Commonwealth environmental law, the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act). 

Tom Allen for the Wilderness Society Tasmania said “Minister Ley’s Statement reveals why, for the first time, an Environment Minister has recognised that the Lake Malbena proposal will significantly and adversely impact threatened species, wilderness character and reduce natural and World Heritage values”. 

Continue reading “Helicopter tourism at Lake Malbena will ‘significantly and adversely impact wilderness character’ of area”

Public forum: Reclaim Our Reserves!

The Tasmanian Liberal government continues to pursue an agenda that would see national parks and other protected areas opened up to further commercial tourism. After spending decades working to see these areas protected, environmental groups are organised against the many specific proposals. Now there is a growing connection being drawn between the various groups and issues in play across the state.

There will be a public forum in Hobart on December 10 to address the scale of the threats to wild places.

Continue reading “Public forum: Reclaim Our Reserves!”

A Fire Management Plan for the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area

The Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area (TWWHA) is a World Heritage Site in Tasmania. It is one of the largest conservation areas in Australia, covering 15,800 km², or almost 20% of lutruwita/ Tasmania. It is also one of the last great expanses of temperate wilderness in the world.

In recent summer’s, significant sections of the TWWHA have been devastated by bushfires. The 2018/19 fires were especially destructive.

Fire is perhaps the greatest challenge for the management of the TWWHA, particularly in the context of climate change. With the September 2020 release by the Parks and Wildlife Service of a range of discussion papers for public comment, the state is moving towards the development of a Fire Management Plan for the TWWHA, as recommended by the 2016 report by Tony Press (Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area Bushfire and Climate Change Research Project) and prescribed by the 2016 TWWHA Management Plan. 

How have the papers been received by conservationists?

Continue reading “A Fire Management Plan for the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area”

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