World Heritage Committee criticises TWWHA development process

The annual meeting of the UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation) World Heritage Committee has recently concluded. Australian media attention focussed on the proposal to add the Great Barrier Reef to the List of World Heritage in Danger. This was postponed for 12 months following a lobbying trip by federal Environment Minister Sussan Ley.

Less attention was given to recommendations for the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area (TWWHA) which have survived unchanged thanks to lobbying by local conservationists.

The UNESCO decision raises questions about the relationship between the recently-finalised TWWHA Tourism Master Plan, the Management Plan and the Expression of Interest process.

The most interesting part of the UNESCO report is recommendation 7:

(UNESCO) …. urges the State Party to avoid any development at the property before the Detailed Plan for a Comprehensive Cultural Assessment is implemented, reminds the State Party of the importance of carrying out impact assessments, and to submit to the World Heritage Centre, for review by the Advisory Bodies, details of any project that may affect the property’s OUV, in accordance with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines;

In media reporting, Tasmanian Parks Minister Petrusma has so far stated that this is ‘impractical’. It is not clear what this will mean in practice for developments in the TWWHA.

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