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Mountain Journal

Environment, news, culture from the Australian Alps

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World Heritage

Do we need a new remote area volunteer firefighting force?

On New Year’s Eve, December 31, 2019, a front brought a smattering of rain across the Victorian mountains, barely enough to damp down the dust. But the associated lightning storm started dozens of new fires in a long belt from Mt Buller to the NSW border.

Forest Fire Management crews swung into action and many of these were quickly put out. Aerial bombing dealt with others. But there were simply too many, and some grew into massive blazes, including some that went on to devastate the forests and landscapes of East Gippsland in coming weeks.

This raises the question: Do we need a new remote area volunteer firefighting force in Victoria who could help suppress lightning strike fires before they take off?

Continue reading “Do we need a new remote area volunteer firefighting force?”

Reclaim Malbena Hobart update

The long running attempt by developers to establish a helicopter accessed ‘eco lodge’ on Halls Island in Lake Malbena in Tasmania’s Central Plateau is part of a larger agenda to open up areas of wilderness and World Heritage to new commercial tourism operations.

In December 2019, the Resource Management and Planning Appeal Tribunal (RMPAT) overturned the Central Highlands Council’s decision to refuse a permit for helicopter-accessed visitor accommodation at Halls Island. There was then a challenge in the Supreme Court, followed by an appeal.

There is still a long way to go before the proposal can proceed, and the community campaign against the proposal keeps growing.

Hobart people are encouraged to attend a public meeting to hear about what’s happening and how to get involved in the campaign against this development. Wednesday February 12.

Continue reading “Reclaim Malbena Hobart update”

Proposed new walker infrastructure for Walls of Jerusalem

The Walls of Jerusalem are located in the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area, on the edge of the Central  Plateau. It is a wild and inspiring place, that has relatively easy access via walking tracks and stunning rocky peaks and alpine lakes.

It is a hugely popular hiking destination and the Tasmania Parks and Wildlife Service has been trying to find the right balance between building track infrastructure to reduce walker impact and keeping the wild nature of the Walls.

There are now plans for additional walker infrastructure and there is an opportunity to make a submission about these proposals.

Continue reading “Proposed new walker infrastructure for Walls of Jerusalem”

Lake Malbena appeal filed in the Supreme Court of Tasmania

There has been a long running attempt to develop a tourism venturein a remote World Heritage Area on Tasmania’s Central Plateau. This would set a worrying precedent for future commercial development in World Heritage and National Parks.

In December 2019, the Resource Management and Planning Appeal Tribunal (RMPAT) overturned the Central Highlands Council’s decision to refuse a permit for helicopter-accessed visitor accommodation at Halls Island, Lake Malbena, in the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area. But environmental groups have not given up on this issue.

Continue reading “Lake Malbena appeal filed in the Supreme Court of Tasmania”

More ‘helicopter tourism’ in Tasmania?

The long running attempt by developers to establish a helicopter accessed ‘eco lodge’ on Halls Island in Lake Malbena in Tasmania’s Central Plateau is part of a larger agenda to open up areas of wilderness and World Heritage to new commercial tourism operations.

The proposal is disturbing on it’s own – it would allow the developer to have exclusive use of the island. But according to Fishers and Walkers Against Helicopter Access Tasmania, there are plans underway to allow larger areas that could be opened up to ‘helicopter tourism’. They say:

“This (map) is the world heritage zoning for the Western Lakes. All the orange and yellow is fair game for helicopter tourism. The zones were amended to suit development proposals”.

The map comes from the World Heritage Area management plan.

This is incredibly disturbing.

Please follow FAWAHAT to find out more and get involved in the campaign against private tourism developments in wild places in Tasmania.

 

Reclaim Malbena

As the long campaign to protect World Heritage Areas from commercial development continues (and in the aftermath of the Federal Court case against the planned ‘helicopter tourism’ development proposed for Lake Malbena on Tasmania’s Central Plateau), a trip has now been planned to visit the site threatened by this proposal.

The Fishers and Walkers Against Helicopter Access Tasmania and the Wilderness Society have organised the camp, which will happen over the weekend of December 7 and 8.

Continue reading “Reclaim Malbena”

Approval of Lake Malbena ‘helicopter tourism’ project overturned in the Federal Court

The Wilderness Society (TWS) and Environmental Defenders Office (EDO) have had a win in the ongoing battle over the development of a tourism venture at Lake Malbena in Tasmania’s Central Plateau. The Federal Court has set aside the decision by the federal environment minister Melissa Price that the Wild Drake heli-fishing camp in the World Heritage listed Walls of Jerusalem national park is not a ‘controlled action’ under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999. (A controlled action can avoid full environmental assessment).

The federal government’s controversial decision in August 2018 to allow helicopter flights and huts on Lake Malbena had been challenged in the Federal Court. Earlier this year, TWS sought a judicial review of the Federal Environment Minister’s decision that the Halls Island, Lake Malbena development is “not a controlled action” under the [federal] Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act).

This is a great outcome.

This decision does not stop the proposal.  It means that the Parks and Wildlife Service cannot grant proper approval of the proposal.  It will now be sent back for proper approvals process under the EPBC Act. Wilderness Society spokesman Tom Allen says the decision had effectively put a stop to the plans that included huts, a communal building, walkways and helicopter flights.

Continue reading “Approval of Lake Malbena ‘helicopter tourism’ project overturned in the Federal Court”

Tasmanian Wilderness Guides step up to protect wild places

It is always heartening to see outdoor groups and businesses getting active to protect the places they love and rely on. From the many groups who campaign for the creation of new parks in order to protect wild places, to the efforts of Protect Our Winters, who are mobilising the winter sports community, there are many great groups and initiatives out there.

With ongoing attempts by the Tasmanian government to open up national parks and World Heritage areas to further commercial tourist operations, it has been great to see the organised campaigning by the group that represents outdoor guides in that state.

Continue reading “Tasmanian Wilderness Guides step up to protect wild places”

TAS planning tribunal approves helicopter tourism on the Central Plateau

In February this year, the Central Highlands Council in Tasmania rejected the Lake Malbena tourism development.

The controversial ‘helicopter tourism’ development planned for Halls Island in Lake Malbena on Tasmania’s central plateau had previously been approved by state and federal governments. The local Council was the last government authority which needed to sign off on the project. It rejected it and it had been hoped that the decision by Council would be the end of the proposal.

However, the developer lodged an appeal against this decision. And now the state’s planning tribunal has overturned Central Highlands Councils attempt to have it blocked.

Continue reading “TAS planning tribunal approves helicopter tourism on the Central Plateau”

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