As uncontrolled wildfires rage across Tasmania The Wilderness Society and Nature Photographers Tasmania have called on the Premier of Tasmania Will Hodgman and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison to urgently request international amphibious water-bombing assistance to combat the unfolding tragedy at some of the world’s most important and iconic natural sites, in the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area.

Fire is now at the very edge of the largest remaining forest of thousand-year old King Billy pines in the world, at Mt Bobs, and directly threatens Federation Peak and the entire Arthur Range.

In the midst of devastating loss of people’s homes we are also on the brink of losing ancient forests and alpine communities. We need not lose one to save the other. We acknowledge the tremendous contribution made by fire crews, including efforts to protect wilderness values. However the scale of the fires, with over 2.5% of Tasmania burnt or burning, has overwhelmed fire-fighting capacity to the extent that little is available to combat remote fires in the Tasmania Wilderness World Heritage Area. Ancient Gondwanan plant communities thousands of years old stand to be irrevocably lost to fire – never to recover in our lives, our children’s lives, or our children’s-children’s lives.

These irreplaceable wilderness icons are among the most critical features of the entire Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area. Tasmania and Australia have responsibilities as caretakers of the Australian World Heritage properties, and these responsibilities are now not being upheld.

These are not ‘natural fires’ as we historically understand them. Dry lightning strikes of the type that ignited scores of fires in southern Tasmania over the last month were virtually unheard of before the year 2000 but have been exponentially increasing since that time. January 2019 will smash records for hot and dry conditions in Hobart and Southwest Tasmania. The current fires are as much a consequence of climate change and global warming as are bleaching reefs, retreating glaciers, and disappearing ice-caps.

Unprecedented changes in climate call for unprecedented fire-fighting responses. Very large amphibious water-bombing aircraft are routinely used to combat wildfires in North America, Canada and Europe. We call on Premier Hodgman and Scott Morrison to immediately contact Northern Hemisphere leaders and urgently request the deployment of these strategically effective craft to avert a global catastrophe in Tasmania.

Media Release Wednesday 30 January 2019

Vica Bayley – 0400 644 939 (The Wilderness Society)
Rob Blakers – 0427 232 539 (Nature Photographers Tasmania)

Image by Rob Blakers of King Billy pines, Mt Bobs.

Take action

You can call the PM’s office in Canberra and ask to leave a message. Simply say that you want the federal government to intervene and provide extra resources to fight the fires in Tasmania, including requesting international support.

(02) 6277 7700


Tasmania Fire Service (TFS) district officer Andrew McGuinness has responded to this call, stating that “troops on the ground are needed”.

“We’ve got 38 aircraft operating in the state at the moment. The more aircraft you bring into the state doesn’t necessarily lead to extinguishing fires,” he said.

“We need to be able to deploy remote area firefighters into these areas. We need Mother Nature to give us some rain too.”