Environment Tasmania has today welcomed the resolution by UNESCO's World Heritage Committee (WHC) to adopt, without amendment, a decision to urge the Hodgman Government to take its Draft TWWHA Management Plan back to the drawing board.
Andrew Perry, Environment Tasmania’s spokesperson for forests, said “What’s essentially happened here is the Tasmanian Government has removed a bunch of critical protections for the World Heritage Area, and said we know this looks bad, but you can trust us to do the right thing. But now the World Heritage Committee has said we don’t trust you, that’s not good enough, put those protections back in.”
“So what we now know is that the UN’s World Heritage Committee has echoed the concerns of thousands of Tasmanians, Australians, and people from around the world who have said to the Tasmanian Government: keep Tasmania's wilderness wild.”
“What we don't know though, is how many people need to speak before the Tasmanian Government will listen.”
This isn’t just an embarrassment for the Tasmanian Government - this is a blow to the Tasmanian brand, as most of our key economic sectors, such as tourism and agriculture, all trade off the clean and green image that our Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area underpins, and legitimises. Without this competitive edge, the entire Tasmanian economy will suffer, as will the health of our communities, wildlife, and planet.
The WHC has expressed serious concerns over not only on how the area’s outstanding universal value (OUV) would be managed and maintained, but also on the Government’s plans for tourism developments within its boundary.
Mr Perry said: “Whereas Environment Tasmania welcomes new money for parks in the 2015-‐16 Tasmanian Budget, it will merely be a band-aid for the gaping wounds this Government looks set to inflict upon Tasmania’s world-‐class wilderness.”
Environment Tasmania, calls upon State and Federal Governments, for all Tasmanians, Australians, and indeed, the world, to take its Draft TWWHA Management Plan back to the drawing board and reinstate the Wilderness Zone, rule out logging and mining, reign in tourism development, properly recognise and respect its cultural values, and to ensure such a management plan is properly funded.
Mr Perry concluded that: “Where the Hodgman Government fails to act in accordance with World Heritage Convention, Tasmanians will expect Federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt to step in, and demonstrate to the world that he takes his responsibilities as Australia’s most senior steward of indigenous heritage and natural values seriously.”
Extracts from UNESCO WHC Thirty-ninth session:
… Establishment of strict criteria for new tourism development within the property which would be in line with the primary goal of protecting the property’s OUV, including its wilderness character and cultural attributes
… urges the State Party to ensure that commercial logging and mining are not permitted within the entire property, and that all areas of public lands within the property’s boundaries, including Regional Reserves, Conservation Areas and Future Potential Production Forest Lands, have a status that ensures adequate protection of the OUV of the property
[that there is] Recognition of the cultural attributes of OUV, as also fundamental for its management
Requests the State Party to secure adequate funding for the management of the property, taking into consideration the extension of the property as approved by the Committee at its 37th session (Phnom Penh, 2013)
To read the full transcript of this decision, please go to page 52 of the WHC's 39th Session Committee Decisions.