Tasmania is blessed with beautiful and intact landscapes and excellent protection of much of the state. World Heritage Areas and national parks have long been coveted by developers and these attempts to open up parks to commercial interests have been resisted – with varying degrees of success – over the years.
Under the current very pro ‘development’ Liberal government in Tasmania there are no end of proposals for private developments in national parks and other parts of the conservation network (check here for a current list).
This is being resisted strongly by many in the Tasmanian community and it is now being criticised internationally.
Ellen Coulter, writing for the ABC reports that the ‘UNESCO World Heritage Committee has raised concerns about Tasmania’s wilderness areas being rezoned for tourism developments and called on the State Government to speed up a Tourism Master Plan requested in 2015.
Conservationists said a recent UNESCO document highlighted serious risks to Tasmania’s wilderness brand.
In the document, the committee also raised concerns about the State Government’s rezoning of some wilderness areas to allow for tourism opportunities and wider aircraft access.
The report refers to areas being changed from “wilderness” to “remote recreation”, which the Wilderness Society’s Vica Bayley understands refers to new “self-reliant recreation zones”.
Mr Bayley said rezoning had occurred near Lake Malbena, in the Walls of Jerusalem National Park, where a “luxury standing camp” has been proposed.
“Also down the Overland Track and indeed at Lake Rodway, at Cradle Mountain,” he said.
“It seems that the Government here has been called out — the World Heritage Committee has identified that this switch is of concern and they’re urging for it to be fixed.
“This risks our reputation, it risks our credibility on the international stage and it sends a signal of contempt.”
In response, Tasmanian Greens have urged the state government to put a halt on tourism proposal assessments until a Tourism Master Plan was in place.