Mountain Journal

Environment, news, culture from the Australian Alps


World Heritage

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.

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’”

Cradle Mountain plan to increase tourism

An announcement about a new tourism plan for northern Tasmania has raised the possibility of there being new developments adjacent to the Cradle Mountain National Park.

The Examiner reports that:

AN ‘‘EDGY’’ plan to upgrade Cradle Mountain tourist facilities aims to have a similar effect on tourism numbers in Northern Tasmania as the launch of the Spirit of Tasmania.

The master plan, formed over six months and spearheaded by the Cradle Coast Authority, is expected to be launched late this week after stakeholders are briefed.

Continue reading “Cradle Mountain plan to increase tourism”

TAS fires pose threat to high-altitude areas

Lightning strikes lit well over 100 fires across Tasmania in mid January. As of Feb 3, more than 50 are still burning, and there have been significant impacts on townships, especially in the north west and north of the state.

Check here for details on the status of the fires, why they are so destructive, and whether there are links to climate change.

Continue reading “TAS fires pose threat to high-altitude areas”

Hands off the Tasmanian World Heritage Area!

In January, The Australian newspaper reported that:

“TASMANIA’S  Liberal government is to take the “wilderness’’ out of the state’s iconic Wilderness World Heritage Area, rezoning it to allow tourism developments, more aircraft and ship access, and even selective logging.

The radical plans, which have provoked outrage from conservationists, are contained in a draft ­revised management plan for the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area.”

The natural and cultural values of this incredible landscape are under threat, but you can write a submission about the management plan.

Friends of the Earth in Melbourne is hosting an information night to let people know what is being planned and how to write a submission.

Please come along and find out what is really going on and how you can help Tassie campaigners to protect this global treasure!

Featuring speaker Robert Campbell (President of the Tasmanian National Parks Association), amazing photography, films, snacks and drinks.

Thursday March 12, at 6.30 pm.

At Friends of the Earth, 312 Smith street, Collingwood.

A Facebook page for the event is available here.


Tasmania plans to open wilderness world heritage area to logging and tourism

In a worrying development, decades worth of environmental campaigning could be lost under plans unveiled by the Tasmanian government to open up the world heritage area to logging and tourism.

Under the rhetoric of supporting Indigenous people, the government has released the draft Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area Management Plan Project, while opening up the prospect of major new developments withing the region.

The National Parks and Reserves Management Act 2002 requires that the draft plan be made publically available to allow for representations to be made.

Your chance to have a say ends on Sunday 22 March 2015.

Continue reading “Tasmania plans to open wilderness world heritage area to logging and tourism”

more private development in Tasmanian World Heritage Area ?

As the Tasmanian and federal governments are being internationally criticised at the World Heritage Commission meeting in Doha over their attempt to de-list 74,000 hectares of forest from the Tasmanian World Heritage Area, a new threat to the integrity of Tasmania’s reserves has come to light.

A Tasmanian government website is calling for Expressions of Interest from investors w ho have “ideas (for development) in the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area as well as our National Parks and Reserves”.

It says the government wants to “unlock its natural areas to allow exciting new tourism experiences that are complemented by sensitive and appropriate tourism infrastructure”. In other words, more private development in conservation reserves.

Specifically, it says that the Government is looking for “developments which broaden the range of exciting and unique experiences on offer in our state by improving access for tourists while maintaining the integrity of our natural areas”.

It suggests that “sensible and appropriate” developments in the Wilderness World Heritage Area, National Parks and Reserves might include “resort-style accommodation. It might include walking tours, helicopter flights, mountain-bike riding, river cruises, new interpretative experiences or even luxury camping escapes”.

The Government is initially looking for ideas for the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area as well as our National Parks and Reserves. In the longer term it will consider other protected areas including Crown land and State Forests.

The first round for putting in an EOI is open until 21 November 2014.

With the anti-green agenda of the Tasmanian government it is very hard not to see this as a dangerous development which will undermine the ecological integrity of the reserve system.

The Greens have opposed this process. Greens’ Parks and Tourism spokesperson Nick McKim said in May that “the Liberals have an irrational and ideological desire for development at any cost, and they simply cannot be trusted to safeguard the natural and cultural values of Tasmania’s National Parks.”


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