Public Meeting - Tasmania's Wilderness World Heritage Area Under Threat

HeaderPublic Meeting Tomorrow 3 March 2015

Hobart Town Hall – 12 noon

In Hobart Town Hall tomorrow at 12noon a Public Meeting will be held to outline concerns about the Tasmanian Government’s plans to weaken wilderness protection in the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area, and encourage people to have their say.  Speakers are World Heritage Expert Jamie Kirkpatrick, Environmentalist Bob Brown, Champion Orienteer & Runner Hanny Allston, and Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre’s Ruth Langford.

Hanny Allston, Champion Orienteer & Runner will join the speakers tomorrow, “As an athlete and a coach, I appreciate that not everyone instantly loves to get sweaty and suffer through exercise.  Similarly, I appreciate that not all of us instantly fall in love with the intimate side of the wilderness - mud, insects, sleeping on the ground in a tent.  But you can learn to love it and appreciate what the wilderness stands for to you; be it beauty from a far or softly & intimately involved.  It has taken me 29 years and developing an outdoor business in Tasmania to fully appreciate what Tasmania and its unique wild areas have to offer me.”

“Some of us need wilderness and its protected qualities to make us feel whole.  Some of us need the sanctuary of wilderness to unwind whilst others need it as a place to play.  Artists need it for inspiration, photographers to experience, Parks & Wildlife Staff to protect & nurture.  We all have our reasons for needing the wilderness zones intact.  But a remote recreation zone? With less protection for its values and only highlighting the ‘recreational’ aspect - this cannot do justice for what wilderness means to us all. After all, wilderness is part of our island's identity and helps to make us uniquely Tasmania,” Hanny Allston said.

Markets For Change CEO Peg Putt states, "The issue is not whether to allow tourism activities in the World Heritage Area as that is already provided for, with many already operating. The issue is whether to open the most remote, wild, sensitive places to injurious impacts on place and experience, without recognising that wilderness is a quality that exists and should be kept safe whilst tourism business activities are directed into the most appropriate places for managing their level of impact."

Environment Tasmania’s CEO Charlie Sherwin stated, "The Hodgman Government is effectively privatising public lands- they have already covenanted the Parks and Wildlife Service to the tourism industry without any consultation at all, and now they want to wreck wilderness and parks by doing sweetheart deals with private business interests with as little public consultation as they can get away with." 

BirdLife Tasmania has raised concerns of the potential impacts to endangered birds from the changes proposed by the Tasmanian Government. The convenor, Dr Eric Woehler said that the TWWHA supports significant breeding populations of endangered species that are of international significance. “More infrastructure, more people and more disturbance will see greater pressures on our endangered bird species, pushing them closer to extinction”, he added.

The Wilderness Society’s Vica Bayley said, "People have an opportunity to comment on the backward steps Government wants to take regarding wilderness and other protections and this meeting is an opportunity to get more information. Strong protections, including wilderness, have been critical to securing the World Heritage Area against negative development impacts, biosecurity threats, logging and mining and are critical to preserve the outstanding values of the area”.

Tasmanian Conservation Trust's Peter McGlone states, “The draft plan for managing the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area is weak and needs to be drastically altered to ensure protection for the World Heritage Area. In current draft form the plan has been changed to fit the interests of the proponents for development inside the WHA. The Government has released details of just eight projects interested in developments in the World Heritage Area but these include private 20 huts and lodges (all with helicopter access) and the draft plan places no limit on how many may be allowed.”

The meeting is being organised by an alliance of concerned environment groups, who have recently been joined by the Lake Pedder Restoration Committee. This alliance includes; Birdlife Tasmania, Bob Brown Foundation, Environment Tasmania, Markets for Change, Tasmanian Conservation Trust, The Wilderness Society, Tasmanian National Parks Association.

Jenny Weber 0427 366 929
Charlie Sherwin 0431 004702
Vica Bayley 0400 644 939

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