News - 06 December 2021

Wilderness Society acknowledges important contribution of Peter Cundall to wilderness protection

The Wilderness Society joins others in acknowledging the recent passing of Peter Cundall and celebrating the enormous contribution he made to public life and conservation in Australia.

A renowned broadcaster, who led an extraordinary life, Peter Cundall was a lifelong conservationist.

Peter Cundall directly supported the work of the Tasmanian Wilderness Society at the height of the successful campaign to prevent the damming of the Franklin River.

In the 2000s, Peter Cundall joined the Wilderness Society and a coalition of community voices and vigorously protested the proposed Gunns pulp mill, which was planned for the Tamar Valley where he lived.

If it had proceeded, the pulp mill risked destroying vast swatches of Tasmania’s native forests, polluting the valley’s air and marine environment, and impacting agricultural businesses in the area.

In 2009, Peter Cundall was arrested, with dozens of other community members, protesting the planned pulp mill on the steps of the Tasmanian Parliament. The pulp mill was never built.

He was made a Member of the Order of Australia in 2007 "For service to the environment, particularly the protection of wilderness areas in Tasmania, and to horticulture as a presenter of gardening programs on television and radio”.

‘Peter could be counted on to stand up for Tasmania’s forests and wild rivers,’ said Geoff Law former Wilderness Society campaigner. ‘He was a forthright critic of the mentality of greed that drives the destruction of our wild places.’

‘Peter Cundall galvanised wilderness supporters at dozens of rallies. ​​These included a packed Albert Hall meeting against the pulp mill on his 80th birthday (April 2007); the march for the Styx forest (July 2003) in thick winter drizzle and a gritty protest for the Franklin River at the Crotty Road (January 1983) just outside Queenstown.

He played an invaluable role in extending the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area to encompass previously threatened forest giants in valleys such as those of the Styx, Weld and Florentine rivers. He protected his beloved Tamar valley from the putrid pollution that would have been emitted by the Gunns pulp mill.’

‘Peter was a regular speaker at Town Hall meetings and rallies organised by the Wilderness Society. Because he was so well known and liked by the public these events swelled to greater numbers because of his name being on the poster.’, said Jill McCollough former Wilderness Society event organiser.

We are all better for his services to wilderness protection and civil society, and Peter Cundall’s passion for the living, natural world will remain an inspiration.

We offer our condolences to all of Peter’s family and friends. Peter Cundall will be missed by many.