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World Heritage

The 2019 Tasmanian Fires so far: what has burned and where?

An update on what ecological communities have been burnt.

Fires have burnt across huge sections of Tasmania this summer (and some continue to burn despite recent rain and milder conditions). There have been grave fears that fire sensitive vegetation – plant communities that will not recover or recover very slowly after fire – had been badly impacted by the fires.

An initial analysis (based on the fires up until Feb 5) of what types of vegetation have been burnt so far in this summer’s fires is heartening. According to Dr Sam Wood, only very small areas of fire sensitive vegetation have been identified as being burnt. “The majority of the burned area is comprised of flammable vegetation communities” (ie, communities adapted to fires). Continue reading “The 2019 Tasmanian Fires so far: what has burned and where?”

“We are not out of the woods yet”

The Bureau of Meteorolgy has released its national climate summary for January 2019. As expected, it shows that it was the country’s warmest January on record for mean temperatures (2.91 °C above average), maximum temperatures (3.37 °C above average) and minimum temperatures (2.45 °C above average). Rainfall for the country as a whole was 38% below the long-term average for January, and Tasmania had its driest January on record.

After a dry winter and spring in the south east and then a sustained heatwave, its fairly obvious why its been a horror summer for fires. Tasmania and Victoria still have a significant number of fires which are not contained, let alone under control. And there is no obvious break coming to this hot, dry weather. The ecological costs of this summer’s fires are already becoming apparent.

Continue reading ““We are not out of the woods yet””

Impending tragedy in the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area.

As uncontrolled wildfires rage across Tasmania The Wilderness Society and Nature Photographers Tasmania have called on the Premier of Tasmania Will Hodgman and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison to urgently request international amphibious water-bombing assistance to combat the unfolding tragedy at some of the world’s most important and iconic natural sites, in the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area.

Continue reading “Impending tragedy in the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area.”

TAS fire grows to 10,000 ha. ‘There’s no way of stopping it at this stage’.

A fire is burning out of control in the south west of Tasmania. It started as a result of a lightning strike on December 27. It is being reported that it has already grown to 10,000 hectares and currently considered ‘out of control’ and hence fire services are unable to contain it. The ABC reports that 150 members of the Tasmanian Fire Service are currently fighting it but ‘there’s no way of stopping it at this stage’.

It threatens iconic areas like Lake Rhona and is moving towards Mt Field National Park and the towns of Maydena, Tyenna and National Park. A westerly change which is passing through the state could change direction of the fire so check the Tasmania Fire Service (TFS) website for details if you’re in the area (see below for all links).

Header image of the fire comes from http://satview.bom.gov.au/

Continue reading “TAS fire grows to 10,000 ha. ‘There’s no way of stopping it at this stage’.”

Senate calls for a full assessment of the Lake Malbena development

The ‘eco tourism’ development planned for Lake Malbena will introduce ‘helicopter tourism’ to the central plateau of Tasmania. Approvals have been ‘waved through’ by the federal government, despite three official expert bodies lashing the proposal or calling for it to be rejected.

The decision threatens to open the floodgate to a host of other private tourism operations proposed for the World Heritage-listed area.

In a new development, the senate has called on federal Environment Minister Melissa Price to conduct a full assessment of the Lake Malbena development, including public consultation.

Continue reading “Senate calls for a full assessment of the Lake Malbena development”

Federal Environment Minister fails first test – approves helicopter tourism in World Heritage Area

As we know, under the current very pro ‘development’ Liberal government in Tasmania there are no end of proposals for private developments in national parks and other parts of the conservation network.

One that has been receiving a lot of attention is the proposal to build a small ‘top end’ facility that would rely on helicopter tourism at Lake Malbena, inside the Walls of Jerusalem National Park in central Tasmania.

It has been reported that the Morrison government ‘waved through approval for a luxury tourist development and helipad in the pristine Tasmanian wilderness’ despite three official expert bodies lashing the proposal or calling for it to be rejected.

Continue reading “Federal Environment Minister fails first test – approves helicopter tourism in World Heritage Area”

“Something changed about 2000″. TAS forests threatened by ‘catastrophic’ bushfires

Widespread wildfires in early 2016 caused devastating damage across large areas of the Tasmanian World Heritage Area, including significant sections of vegetation which is not fire adapted, such as Pencil Pine forests.

At the time, and in follow up investigations, it became clear that increased fire risk due to climate change posed an existential threat to these vegetation types. Now additional research has confirmed the trend towards more extreme fire seasons. It suggests that we reached a ‘tipping point’ sometime around the year 2000 and that, since then, there has been an increase in the number of lightning-caused fires and an increase in the average size of the fires, “resulting in a marked increase in the area burnt”.

Continue reading ““Something changed about 2000″. TAS forests threatened by ‘catastrophic’ bushfires”

TAS and federal govs ‘ignored expert advice’ in approving wilderness development

The attempt by some in government and business to open up World Heritage and other protected areas to commercial development has seen a long running campaign by those who fear that individual developments could be the ‘thin end of the wedge’ and open the door to much greater incursion.

Recently there has been substantial concern about plans to build a fly-in, fly-out luxury camp at Lake Malbena in Tasmania’s Wilderness World Heritage Area (TWWHA) on the Central Plateau. It is a remote location, to the south east of the famed Walls of Jerusalem area. The plan includes a helipad, accommodation, kitchen and toilet facilities.

Now, leaked documents show that Tasmania’s national parks advisory body argued against the controversial development which has been supported by both the State and Federal Governments.

Continue reading “TAS and federal govs ‘ignored expert advice’ in approving wilderness development”

Keep It Wild

Australians have campaigned for decades to protect our remaining wild ecosystems. From the Franklin River to the Daintree, Arnhem Land to the Alps to south west WA, many hundreds of campaigns have seen the creation of an incredible conservation estate. But as the saying goes, the price of freedom is eternal vigilance. Now we must be ready to defend these wild places, which once seemed safely preserved, from a range of new threats. The obvious one is climate change. But there is also a more localised and immediate threat: there are many plans to open up reserves to logging, commercial tourism and mining.

These proposals are being resisted locally wherever they arise. But unless you’re a part of a local group it can be hard to know about what threats are arising and where.

Keep It Wild is a great initiative which seeks to bring together the various threats to the conservation estate to help people to get active.

Continue reading “Keep It Wild”

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