Mountain Journal

Environment, news, culture from the Australian Alps


World Heritage

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’.

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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.

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‘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.

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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.

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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”

Tasmanian volunteer remote area firefighting teams established

Over the summer of 2018/19, huge fires burnt across Tasmania. An independent review of Tasmania’s management of the summer bushfires was initiated. It makes a series of recommendations for the fire services and government, including a proposal to re-establish a volunteer remote area firefighter group. The report was produced by the Australasian Fire and Emergency Service Authorities Council (AFAC).

Recommendation 2 of the report says:

The Tasmanian Fire Service (TFS) should pursue the creation of a cadre of volunteer remote area firefighters. In doing so the TFS should not consider itself limited to upskilling of current volunteer brigade members, but should carry out a cost benefit analysis of creating one or more remote area firefighting units based in urban areas, in order to tap into the potential of those members of the urban-based Tasmanian community who may have advanced knowledge and skills relating to navigation and survival in wilderness areas.

That group has now been established and is being trained.

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Lake Malbena ‘helicopter tourism’ proposal to undergo federal assessment

Tasmania is famed for its wild landscapes, much of which is protected in national parks and World Heritage.

In 2016, the Hodgman Liberal government changed the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area (TWWHA) management plan, rezoning various sections of what was once Wilderness zone, into ‘Self Reliant Recreation’ zoning, which allowed developers to propose commercial developments in these zones. Perhaps the highest profile case has involved the plan to allow helicopter landings to take place at Lake Malbena on the Central Plateau. This was approved by the Federal environment minister, and has been slowly moving forward despite a strong community campaign and legal challenge.

In a significant development, it has now been announced the proposal will now require Federal assessment of its environmental impacts.

Continue reading “Lake Malbena ‘helicopter tourism’ proposal to undergo federal assessment”

Keep the Western Lakes Wild and Public

The proposal for helicopter-accessed luxury huts at Lake Malbena is the test case for more than 30 secret development plans under the current Government’s Expressions of Interest process.

This exclusive and secretive lease of $1,000/year will destroy the serenity and all that is precious about the Western Lakes in the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area (TWWHA)

Come along to a public meeting hosted by Fishers and Walkers against helicopter access Tasmania to hear the latest & what we can do about it. Tickets are required (due to Covid) but are free!
Sunday, September 20, 2020 at 2 PM – 4 PM

Continue reading “Keep the Western Lakes Wild and Public”

Feral deer moving into World Heritage Parks in Tasmania

Australia has enormous problems with large invasive species like feral pigs, horses and deer. These species have negatively impacted huge sections of the continent. Yet self interest sometimes over rides the need to remove these populations. For instance, hunters sometimes argue that animals like deer should be left in wild places like national parks to allow continued hunting. And there is a huge campaign to see feral horse populations retained in the Australian Alps on spurious ‘cultural’ grounds.

Public debate has focused strongly on wild horse populations over the past few years. The threat poised by deer in lutruwita/ Tasmania is set to become a major public issue as the size of the feral deer population becomes clear. It is obvious that deer are moving into new habitats, and will bring enormous ecological impacts as they do so.

Continue reading “Feral deer moving into World Heritage Parks in Tasmania”

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