Media Statement from:
- The Wilderness Society
- Tasmanian National Parks Association
- Tasmanian Conservation Trust
- The Bob Brown Foundation
- Environment Tasmania
Tasmania's exceptional natural and cultural heritage is central to the "Tasmanian Brand" that attracts visitors to this island State from around the world.
Tasmania's Environment NGOs have today joined in a unanimous call for a better approach to strengthening the management of Tasmania's Wilderness World Heritage Area rather than the weakening of its management that is currently proposed by the Tasmanian Government.
The jewel in the crown of Tasmania's world-class system of National Parks, the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area (TWWHA), has to date been protected by an effective management plan.
A weakening of the TWWHA management plan to allow the intrusion of inappropriate developments into our natural areas risks irreparably damaging the values protected within our protected areas as well as the Tasmanian Brand.
"Our National Parks are a legacy handed down to us by Tasmanians who had the foresight to preserve what they held to be precious. They are not the Government's to give away or auction off to the highest bidder," says Robert Campbell from the Tasmanian National Parks Association.
"We are worried that at the time that the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area management plan is under review the Tasmanian Government has called for Expressions of Interest for development of tourism experiences and associated infrastructure in the TWWHA and other National Parks and Reserves," Robert Campbell said.
"Poorly conceived tourism developments have despoiled spectacular places the world over and tarnished once impeccable brands. We need to be wary about similarly impacting the core 'Tasmanian Brand', one that attracts visitors globally," says Vica Bayley from the Wilderness Society.
"We are really concerned about the Government's approach to potential developments in reserves as they have refused to define the criteria under which they will be assessed. Tasmanian Conservation Trust's Peter McGlone stated.
"Minister Groom's claim that developments must be sensitive and appropriate is so broad that we fear that any project will be accepted regardless of the impacts."
"Tasmanian Conservation Trust and Tasmanian National Parks Association have written to Minister Groom twice asking for more detail about the assessment criteria but we have not received a response" Mr McGlone concluded
"Environment NGO's are calling for an approach to ensure ongoing protection of our globally significant World Heritage Area, that is more inclusive, will spread the benefits of a growing tourism industry more broadly throughout the Tasmanian community, and at the same time will provide better protection to the unique values protected within our conservation reserves," Bob Brown Foundation's Jenny Weber said.
The Environment NGOs call on the Tourism Industry to support the ongoing work to expand Tasmania's protected areas estate to properly protect Tasmania's natural and cultural values. The recent publication of the document "Reimagining the Visitor Experience of Tasmania's Wilderness World Heritage Area", led by the Tourism Industry Council of Tasmania, is also calling for the building of accommodation lodges within the TWWHA.
The Environment Non–Government Organisation's alternative vision is built on a framework based on the following principles:
- A responsibility to pass on to future generations Tasmania's exceptional natural and cultural heritage in no poorer condition than we experience it.
- Acknowledgement that wilderness is a diminishing global asset which needs to be protected not compromised.
- Tourism (and recreational) ventures will be compatible with statutory management plans (and not require ad hoc changes); and will be established and managed in an ecologically sustainable manner.
- Where facilities can be developed outside the TWWHA and national parks, such facilities and services will not be provided as concessions within the TWWHA ornational park.
- New tourism (and recreational) initiatives will support and commercially contribute to communities living in juxtaposition with National Parks and other protected areas, so that the benefits flow to these communities.
- Tourism (and recreational) initiatives should encourage a mutually beneficial relationship between tourism operators, rather than a competitive one.
- Assessment of new tourism initiatives will be undertaken in a publically transparent and accountable manner.
We also encourage the development of a Sustainable Tourism Strategy which, while supporting a diverse range of tourism initiatives that benefits all Tasmanians, is also protective of the State’s exceptional values.
We believe that it is possible to achieve both together.
- Robert Campbell, Tasmanian National Parks Association: 0409 568 635
- Vica Bayly, Wilderness Society: 0400 644 939
- Peter McGlone, Tasmanian Conservation Trust: 0406 380 545
- Jenny Weber, Bob Brown Foundation: 0427 366 929
- Charlie Sherwin, Environment Tasmania, 0431 004 702