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.”