The Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area (TWWHA) Draft Management Plan demonstrates the Tasmanian Government intends to abandon the concept of ‘wilderness’ amongst a range of changes that water down protections to allow invasive tourism development and logging in the internationally renowned area.
Abandoning wilderness is a reckless and nonsensical move given its importance for the state’s reputation, its centrality to tourism branding and its use as an important conservation management tool.
"Wilderness is globally recognised as precious but it is diminishing. The government's approach will reduce the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area's greatness and result in its mediocrity. Its Outstanding Universal Values are a global heritage which Tasmania holds in trust for all the world," said Robert Campbell, spokesperson for the Tasmanian National Parks Association.
“By abandoning wilderness, Government attacks the very thing that makes Tasmania different, special and attractive to so many people around the world,” said Vica Bayley, spokesperson for the Wilderness Society. “It also undermines the Parks Services’ ability to properly manage the outstanding values of an area recognised as of global significance.”
The TCT Director Peter McGlone questioned the economic benefit of the government push to open wilderness areas to development, stating that “There are record numbers of tourists coming to Tasmania and a massive increase in numbers visiting national parks and doing iconic walks such as the Overland and South Coast Track so there seems to be no good economic reason for making it easier to build new attractions in wilderness areas. Tourism is booming at the moment and the government’s proposal to open wilderness areas to previously prohibited developments only threatens rather than benefits the future of the industry.”
A change to the historical prohibition on logging within the World Heritage Area will similarly alarm tourists, scientists and the international community and send an atrocious signal about Tasmania’s commitment to properly protecting globally significant cultural and natural heritage.
"By weakening protections of the globally significant Wilderness World Heritage Area to allow developments and logging for private profit, Premier Hodgman threatens to kill the fastest growing industry that is benefiting the state's economy," Jenny Weber, Campaign Manager for The Bob Brown Foundation.
"Wilderness is rare and getting rarer- that's why people stood up for it years ago, and what makes Tasmania special today. If wilderness is lost Tasmania will become just one ordinary place among many others- and the world will lose a place of wonder, mystery and adventure," said Charlie Sherwin, CEO of Environment Tasmania.