Media Releases - 04 February 2022

Governments mislead UNESCO on Tasmanian wilderness

Halls Island in the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area. Image: Grant Dixon.

The Wilderness Society is concerned that the Australian Government’s State of the Conservation (SoC) Report on the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area (TWWHA) misleads UNESCO.

“The Australian and Tasmanian governments’ State of Conservation Report (SoC) on the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area is misleading and full of spin,” said Jimmy Cordwell, campaigner for the Wilderness Society.

Last year, the World Heritage Committee tabled a number of questions and concerns about the management of the Tasmanian Wilderness. Perhaps most critically, given the Gutwein Government parks privatisation policy—“Unlocking the Potential in our Parks”—the Committee asked the Government “to avoid any development at the property before the Detailed Plan for a Comprehensive Cultural Assessment is implemented”. Neither of these things have happened.

“The SoC report is the governments’ response to UNESCO’s questions and concerns and it’s simply not good enough. Its responses and explanations are more spin than substance.

“The parks privatisation policy remains on the table despite the Lake Malbena proponent withdrawing its planning application at the last minute. The only reason the Lake Malbena scheme got as far as it did was because of the parks privatisation policy. The planning application’s withdrawal suggests this policy needs reconsidering.

“The SoC claims ‘The 2016 Management Plan demonstrates the Tasmanian Government’s strong commitment to protecting the property’s Outstanding Universal Value’, but in reality, the parks privatisation policy invites proposals that breach this statutory Management Plan [See Clause 5].

“The World Heritage Committee (WHC) asked for all developments to halt in the World Heritage Area so a Comprehensive Cultural Assessment can take place of Aboriginal heritage. The Government pretends this is happening but, in reality, it’s business as usual: developments are continuing and there’s no meaningful cultural assessment process underway.

“The WHC asked that National Parks be created out of the Future Potential Production Forest reserves around kooparoona niara / Great Western Tiers (Reactive Monitoring Mission, Recommendation 11). Seven years after this request was first made, it still hasn’t happened.

“The Tasmanian Government repeatedly promised to do so but, instead, years later and with 97% public support for national park protection, it says that it now intends to reserve them at the lowest possible level—namely conservation areas and regional reserves. Meanwhile, our petition to UNESCO asking the Government to honour its promises is heading towards 20,000 signatures.

“The Gutwein Gutwein says it wants lutruwita/Tasmania to become a global ecotourism destination, but the clear inaccuracies in their reporting to UNESCO suggests it's not serious," said Mr Cordwell.

For more information contact Jimmy Cordwell on 0447 721 882