First, let me apologise for the long period since the last newsletter. We have had a few changes here at the TCT, most significant being the departure last December of long serving TCT officer manager Trish McKeown. Those who knew Trish would know she didn’t want a great fuss being made about her, but I do feel it necessary to say thank you to her publically on behalf of all TCT members, councillors and staff, past and present.
In the August 2015 Tasmanian Conservationist issue no.335 I wrote about a very worrying proposal for a large tourism development in the Rosny Hill Nature Recreation Area, on Hobart’s eastern shore. This very important, if small, reserve of 20 hectares includes numerous threatened flora and significant grasslands and forest communities. The proposed development would have a footprint of about 30% of the reserves area, including 120 accommodation suites, a function centre catering for 300 people and a 150-seat restaurant.
Reducing the number of native animals killed on our roads has been a major TCT campaign for three decades. The issue is now accepted and publicised as having serious consequences for our native species and there is agreement that it requires more coordinated, sustained action. To catalyse this, TCT is currently undertaking a survey of all Tasmanian road managers, to determine their strategies and actions to reduce roadkill within their jurisdictions. The survey will help to gauge where there might be better coordination of resources and effort, that might lead to fewer deaths and injuries of animals on our roads. As part of its response, Hydro Tasmania sent the following article from Stornaway.
With just a few days before submissions were due on the proposed amendments to the Freycinet National Park Management Plan, the TCT discovered the true implication of the proposal. In our media release of Sunday 29 February 2016, we exposed the true consequences of the proposed amendments, which go well beyond the government’s stated objective of allowing expansion of Freycinet Lodge.
The TCT has long advocated for better management and regulation of firewood collection. As well as encouraging other heating methods, we have supported a move away from sourcing wood from old-growth trees (alive, dead or fallen) because of their importance for biodiversity, towards using young regrowth trees from forests that are not habitats of threatened species or ecological communities. Until recently, my support of plantation wood for firewood had been dismissed.
The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) Forest Management audit report, produced by auditing company SCS Global Services, was released by Forestry Tasmania on 1 March 2016. The state government responded by acknowledging that 90% of the auditor’s forest management standards were met, missing the point that there were 12 major non-conformities and just one prevents certification being granted.
The bushfire situation in the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area (TWWHA) has worsened significantly in the last 40 years. In the early 1980s, malicious and spiteful lighting of fires was rampant, particularly along the Lyell Highway, although this human malevolence seems to have largely abated. Accidental ignitions from campfires and other human folly require vigilant controls, but they are not the most significant threat. Since the early 2000s fires started by dry lightning have become the most significant concern.
The intervention of the World Heritage Committee (WHC) has resulted in the state government dropping plans to allow mining and logging in the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area (TWWHA) and commit to a range of other positive changes to the draft management plan. However, there is still doubt about whether the government’s approach to tourism projects in the TWWHA will change significantly in response to the WHC.
Much has been written and said about Tasmania's burgeoning salmon industry which is so nurtured by our government, and rightly so. However, whilst we would all like the industry to succeed, it must do so sustainably and the views of so many others who rely on our waters for their existence cannot, and should not, be ignored.
Just prior to Christmas 2015, the state government released for public comment its ‘Embracing the Climate Challenge: Tasmania’s draft climate change action plan 2016-2021’ (Draft Plan). However, as the TCT’s submission pointed out, the Draft Plan has major blind spots when it comes to forestry, native forest clearing for agriculture, population increase and management of biodiversity.