Since inscription on the World Heritage List in 1982, the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area (TWWHA) has been managed under a partnership arrangement between the Australian and Tasmanian Governments. Day-to-day management of the area is the responsibility of the Parks and Wildlife Service.
Currently, the majority of the area is managed in accord with the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area Management Plan 1999 (TWWHA Plan). The State Government has admitted that the TWWHA Plan 1999 is now outdated and does not cover the extensions made to the TWWHA in 2012 and 2013. The Tasmanian government, supported by the Commonwealth government, has committed to the development of a contemporary management plan for the TWWHA. This commitment is reflected in the National Partnership Agreement on the Implementation of the Tasmanian Forests Intergovernmental Agreement 2013 which provides funding to develop a contemporary statutory management plan for the TWWHA.
A project team within DPIPWE (i.e. not within the PWS) has been established to oversee the formulation of the new management plan.
- The first stage of the development of the new plan will consist of an informal period of community consultation (currently underway).
- The results of this consultation will inform the development of a first draft which will be released for further, formal public comment in accordance with the established statutory process (expected to be in April 2014).
- A Directors Report, addressing the public representations, will then be prepared and any revisions of the management plan arising from the public representations will be made.
- The final draft plan and the Directors Report will be submitted for consideration by the Tasmanian Planning Commission (or the proposed Parks and Reserves Authority if it is in place) prior to being finalised in late August 2014.
The TCT has met with DPIPWE staff overseeing the review of the TWWHA Management Plan and will attend the Hobart consultative meeting.
Issues which we have already raised with the project team include:
- The possibility that the new Federal Coalition government may seek to revocate the recently approved extension to the TWWHA. To date we have found no evidence that the Federal Government is seriously considering this course of action but we will continue to monitor the situation.
- Parts of the tourism industry have been pushing for more development in the TWWHA and that this may lead to weakening of the development controls (principally the zoning and overlay provisions) in the new plan.
- The state and federal governments have agreed to have a new plan finalized in twelve months as compared with the three years the last plan took to revise. This feeds our fear that a much simpler and briefer plan will be created, to meet with deadline, which omits much of the detailed information which currently ensures developments and management actions are very carefully assessed and planned. On the positive side, it appears that most conservation stakeholders agree that much of the existing plan needs little change and can hopefully be retained with only minor revision. The revision will be greatly assisted by the review commenced in 2007 but not completed or incorporated into the TWWHA Plan.
- There is a need to incorporate recent improvements of knowledge regarding the importance of the Bathurst Habour and Port Davey areas (which is claimed to be the most pristine estuary in temperate Australia), the potential for increased threats to it from a increase in recreational boat visitation and include marine specific management provisions.
- There is a need for the new plan to ensure that the great backlog of land management work is addressed. In particular that adequate resources are allocated for planned burning and to prevent incursions of invasive species and diseases and eradicate priority incursions.
- There is a need to giver proper recognition to the importance which the TWWHA has had and continues to have for the Tasmanian Aboriginal community and to provide for a greater involvement of Aboriginal people in land management and allow greater access to places and utilisation of resources which are important for their cultural practices.
The TWWHA Management Plan review project team encourages written submissions during the current informal consultation process so they can be considered internally in formulating the first draft of the new management plan.