News - 17 February 2015

Letters to the Editor from Vica Bayley

As a willing participant in the public debate, its easy to get frustrated with the framing of what is being said, and how they say it.

Hence a sigh on reading the Sunday Tasmanian headline for an opinion debate between two political leaders on the issue of the World Heritage Area Management Plan.

"The Wilderness Debate: Unlock tourism potential or leave areas untouched." (January 18) Of course Greens Senator Christine Milne was cast in the negative.

Given any one of us can go into the entire World Heritage Area at any time of the day or night there is no genuine unlocking needed.

Considering the World Heritage Area and its existing tourism access already has people flying, boat touring, yachting, walking, wheelchairing, driving, paddling, sleeping, eating, swimming, diving, canyoning, photographing etc, it is already a driver of hundreds of millions of dollars of economic activity and a generator of thousands of jobs. It is so far from locked up.

So what about a more accurate headline that actually speaks to the issue of a management document being weakened to allow new logging and invasive tourism development in areas recognised as globally significant and central to Tasmania's identity.

Try "The Wilderness Debate: keep strong heritage protections and integrity in Wilderness brand or allow more tourism development and logging."

Conservationists, including Senator Milne have a positive message in this debate and are saying YES.

We support natural and cultural heritage conservation through existing protections. We say yes to keeping Tasmania's credibility intact via genuine Wilderness branding and management that maintains Wilderness as an important land management strategy to protect outstanding values.

Headlines that fall into the Government's rhetorical framing of this as a jobs vs environment risk repeating the same sad framing we have seen for decades.

After all, government and industry have consistently used this approach to attack and denigrate conservation efforts to have Tasmania's special places protected. The very places now celebrated, central to our future and under attack once again.

Vica Bayley Tasmanian Campaign Manager The Wilderness Society (Tasmania) Inc.

Sunday, 25 January 2015

In defending his plans to delete wilderness from the Management Plan of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area and allow logging, helicopters and invasive tourism development, Environment  Minister Matthew Groom has slipped into the culture war and used well worn rhetoric labeling concerns as 'misinformation and scaremongering'  (Mercury 14th February).

He says that 'often those who raise fears about tourism in wilderness areas are not doing so based on what is actually proposed'. The problem here is that no one except Minister Groom and a hand chosen panel know exactly what tourism is actually proposed. The process assessing development ideas is secret, with details including locations,  still deliberately withheld from the public.

What we do know is that the Draft Management Plan for the World Heritage Area has been released for public comment. This is the document that guides how the area and its natural and cultural values of global significance are supposed to be protected.

What is clearly written in this Draft Plan is a weakening of current protections and brand new permission for activities like logging, helicopters, float planes, jetskis and exclusive accommodation.

Ditching wilderness and allowing logging, choppers and high-end hotels in the World Heritage area is guaranteed to cultivate conflict in Tasmania and once more raise the ire of the international World Heritage community.

Again trying to pass off genuine concerns as misinformation does nothing to address the issues or instil trust that there is a real Government intent to hear those concerns and try to address them, let alone manage the World Heritage Area properly.

Vica Bayley Tasmanian Campaign Manager The Wilderness Society (Tasmania) Inc.

Tuesday, 17 February 2015