Media Releases - 01 May 2024

Conservationists announce support for Southwest Dark Sky Sanctuary in Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area

Today conservationists in Lutruwita / Tasmania have declared their support for a Dark Sky Sanctuary within the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area in the south west of the state. The Sanctuary, if established, would end light pollution in the region, providing significant benefits for the environment and wildlife as well as the cultural values of the area.

The Crescent Moon over Lake Oberon in the Western Arthur Range. Main image above: the Aurora Australis over Mount Anne. Photograph by Luke Tscharke.

The Southwest National Park of Lutruwita / Tasmania is home to some of the clearest, darkest, and most special skies on earth. In support of an ongoing community campaign to protect the precious natural and cultural values of this significant area from light pollution, the Wilderness Society Tasmania has today released their guide to creating a Southwest Dark Sky Sanctuary.

Light pollution is the fastest growing pollutant in the world, increasing by at least 49% around the planet between 1992 and 2017, and by 400% in some regions1. A 2016 study showed that more than 80% of the world’s populations live under light-polluted skies2. Increased research into the impacts of light pollution have revealed that it is disruptive to wildlife and impacts human health3, all while consuming more energy and contributing to climate change. See editor’s notes for references.

The Wilderness Society Tasmania says the remote corners of the globe’s highest ranked Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area (TWWHA)—specifically the Southwest National Park—would be better preserved and elevated by ensuring its night skies are free from light pollution. A Dark Sky Sanctuary would help to protect wildlife and ecosystems from the negative effects of light pollution, and increase the sustainable tourism potential of the TWWHA through the potential for astro-tourism and other night based activities.

Jimmy Cordwell, campaigner for the Wilderness Society Tasmania, said, “The remote corners of the globe’s highest ranked Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area are the perfect place to create a Dark Sky Sanctuary. The rich dark skies of this special area are not only breathtaking but serve a critical function for the health of the wildlife in this region. A Southwest Dark Sky Sanctuary would also be an incredible opportunity to grow sustainable tourism to the area, in a world where finding places where you can still see the night sky is becoming increasingly rare.”

In support of this call for a Southwest Dark Sky Sanctuary, the Wilderness Society Tasmania has also released “Southwest Sky Country: A Wilderness Society guide to Dark Sky in Lutruwita/Tasmania’s South West”.

Editor’s Notes

  1. Rapid increase in global light pollution, 2021

  2. The new world atlas of artificial night sky brightness, 2016

  3. https://darksky.org/news/artificial-light-at-night-state-of-the-science-2023-report/

For interviews with Jimmy Cordwell, campaigner for Wilderness Society Tasmania, please contact Rhiannon Cunningham, media adviser for the Wilderness Society on [email protected] or 0419 992 760