Western Arthur Range, Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area. Photo: Grant Dixon

Report to UNESCO re the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area

The Australian Government’s latest report to UNESCO’s World Heritage Centre concerning the State of Conservation of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area (TWWHA) was released on 1 December 2019. This was one of the requirements of the 2015 monitoring mission to the TWWHA.

Key points include:

  • Fire has been identified as one of the greatest challenges for the management of the property, particularly in the context of a changing climate. After 2016 and the even more disastrous fires of 2018-19, we can only agree!
  • A draft Statement of Outstanding Universal Value has been prepared and provided to the World Heritage Centre for review by the Advisory Bodies. We can only hope that this includes reference to the wilderness quality which underpins the world heritage values of the property and does not focus exclusively on the area’s value to the tourism industry.strategic paper outlining key policy positions will be released to the public in December 2019
  • A draft of the Tourism Master Plan will be released for public consultation in March 2020 but apparently also a “strategic paper outlining key policy positions will be released to the public in December 2019”. The initial consultation on this plan was boycotted by the TNPA and other conservation groups because the terms of reference appeared biased towards tourism development.
  • The proposed Tourism Development on Halls Island (Lake Malbena) is mentioned but unfortunately the report downplays the achievements of the legal processes (both state and federal) in drawing attention to the deficiencies of the assessment processes (both state and federal)
  • The Cradle Mountain Master Plan is also mentioned without any mention of the total absence of opportunities for public comment on the plan or any acknowledgement that the $30 million of Commonwealth funding is dependent on the successful submission of a yet-to-be-provided business case.