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Western Tasmania

Climate change driven fire threatens Tasmania’s forests

While the summer of 2021/22 has been a mild fire season in the east of the country, there have been a small number of significant fires in lutruwita/ Tasmania that have threatened World Heritage Areas (including one that threatened an incredibly significant Huon pine forest). This is because the west of that state has been experiencing a prolonged and extreme drought, with some areas receiving their lowest rainfall on record.

As reported recently in The Conversation, “this drought fits an observed drying trend across the state, which will worsen due to climate change. This is very bad news for the ancient wilderness in the state’s World Heritage Area, where the lineage of some tree species stretch back 150 million years to the supercontinent Gondwana’.

The drying trend has seen a steady increase in bushfires ignited by lightning, imperilling the survival of Tasmania’s Gondwanan legacy, and raising profound fire management challenges.’ Continue reading “Climate change driven fire threatens Tasmania’s forests”

Fires in Tasmanian World Heritage Areas

Back in 2019, Tasmania/ lutruwita was badly impacted by wildfires (check here for a diary of those fires). With much of south eastern Australia experiencing a La Nina mild summer, the forecast is for a ‘mild’ season across most of the south east.

But following lightning storms over the weekend of December 18 and 19, 2021, a number of fires have started in remote World Heritage Areas in Tasmania/ lutruwita. It has been noted that since the year 2000, there has been an increase in the number of lightning-caused fires and an increase in the average size of the fires in Tasmania, “resulting in a marked increase in the area burnt”.

This page will track significant fires on public lands in Tasmania during the summer of 2021/22.

Continue reading “Fires in Tasmanian World Heritage Areas”

Progress on a fire management plan for the TAS World Heritage Area

The Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area (TWWHA) is one of the largest conservation areas in Australia, covering 15,800 km², or almost 25% of lutruwita/ Tasmania. It contains huge areas of wild landscape.

Sadly, fire is a huge threat to many vegetation communities in the TWWHA which are fire sensitive, particularly in the context of a changing climate.

We know that climate change fueled fire regimes threaten the TWWHA. For instance, the amount of vegetation burnt by fires caused by lightning strikes in Tasmania’s world heritage area has increased dramatically this century, according to research led by the University of Tasmania.

Following public consultation in 2020, plans for managing fire in the TWWHA are being developed. The Tasmanian National Parks Association (TNPA) says ‘we are pleased to see belated progress towards the development of a Fire Management Plan for the TWWHA’.

Continue reading “Progress on a fire management plan for the TAS World Heritage Area”

Feasibility study into Tyndall Range walk released

In 2019, the Tasmanian premier, Will Hodgman, announced that ‘Tasmania’s wild West Coast’ had been chosen as the preferred location for the state’s next ‘Iconic Walk’.

The area selected is the remote Tyndall Range. This ‘iconic walk’ will be similar to the Overland and Three Capes Tracks, where private hut networks have been built and tours are run by commercial operators.

The Tasmanian Parks and Wildlife Service (P&WS) has announced that the ‘findings of a feasibility study into a new overnight experience in the Tyndall Range on Tasmania’s west coast ‘proves the proposal is feasible and will deliver a new and iconic multi-day walking experience’.

Continue reading “Feasibility study into Tyndall Range walk released”

‘Identifying the benefits’ of a new track system in the Tyndall Range

In 2019, the Tasmanian premier, Will Hodgman, announced that ‘Tasmania’s wild West Coast’ had been chosen as the preferred location for the state’s next ‘Iconic Walk’.

The area selected is the remote Tyndall Range. This ‘iconic walk’ will be similar to the Overland and Three Capes Tracks, where private hut networks have been built and tours are run by commercial operators. The Range is known for its rock climbing on conglomerate cliffs up to 300m in height, glacial lakes and substantial alpine areas and ‘out of the way’ nature. The plan to introduce a commercial operation is being opposed by many in the community.

The Tasmanian Parks and Wildlife Service (PWS) is currently exploring options to develop the walk.  The Project is still in the feasibility study stage. The PWS is seeking community assistance through a survey to ‘identify the benefits’ you think will arise from this project, so that the feasibility study ‘can be as comprehensive as possible’.

Continue reading “‘Identifying the benefits’ of a new track system in the Tyndall Range”

Speak up for the people who manage our parks

Our national parks rely on parks staff on so many levels, from managing tourism to fighting fires. Sadly, in Tasmania, austerity measures have been imposed on Department of Primary Industry, Parks, Water & the Environment (DPIPWE) employees, which includes park rangers and other Parks and Wildlife Service (PWS) staff.

Please add your voice and oppose the cut backs.

Continue reading “Speak up for the people who manage our parks”

A Fire Management Plan for the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area

The Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area (TWWHA) is a World Heritage Site in Tasmania. It is one of the largest conservation areas in Australia, covering 15,800 km², or almost 20% of lutruwita/ Tasmania. It is also one of the last great expanses of temperate wilderness in the world.

In recent summer’s, significant sections of the TWWHA have been devastated by bushfires. The 2018/19 fires were especially destructive.

Fire is perhaps the greatest challenge for the management of the TWWHA, particularly in the context of climate change. With the September 2020 release by the Parks and Wildlife Service of a range of discussion papers for public comment, the state is moving towards the development of a Fire Management Plan for the TWWHA, as recommended by the 2016 report by Tony Press (Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area Bushfire and Climate Change Research Project) and prescribed by the 2016 TWWHA Management Plan. 

How have the papers been received by conservationists?

Continue reading “A Fire Management Plan for the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area”

What’s happening with the Tyndall Range walk proposal?

Mountain Journal has previously reported on the planned walking track through the Tyndall Range in western Tasmania. The TAS government wants to see it developed as the next ‘iconic walk’ in the state. This will mean considerable walking track development in what is currently a remote and undeveloped area, and could bring up to 10,000 people a year into a delicate alpine environment. As stated by the Tasmanian National Parks Association (TNPA), ‘construction of any hardened track on the Tyndall Range and Plateau would mar the landscape and destroy its wild and natural character’.

This is an update on the status of this proposal.

Continue reading “What’s happening with the Tyndall Range walk proposal?”

What’s happening with the Tyndall Ranges ‘Iconic Walk’?

The Tasmanian government promised $20 million at the last election to develop Tasmania’s “Next Iconic Walk”, which was intended to be another hut-based multi-day ‘Three Capes Track’-style development. After a public call for ideas last year, some 20 odd submissions were apparently received, but the full list has never been made public. Then, after another internal process without public scrutiny or clearly detailed selection criteria, the chosen option was announced on 26 July.

Based on a proposal from the West Coast Tourism Association, it focuses on the Tyndall Range. This is unfortunate as the original proposal didn’t do this, instead mentioning it only as a possible final-stage option. But it is not clear how this proposal will be moved forward, beyond the recent announcement that there will be ‘consultation with the public’.

Continue reading “What’s happening with the Tyndall Ranges ‘Iconic Walk’?”

Independent review of the management of 2018/19 Tasmanian fires

Over the summer of 2018/19 huge fires burnt across Tasmania. An independent review of Tasmania’s management of the summer bushfires has just been released. It found inadequacies in the response to a fire burning near Geeveston, and revealed that crews withdrew from the Gell River fire in Tasmania’s southwest in the mistaken belief it was out. The fire then expanded again and became out of control.

It makes a series of recommendations for the fire services and government, including a proposal to re-establish a volunteer remote area firefighter group. The report, from the Australasian Fire and Emergency Service Authorities Council (AFAC) also gives an update on the ecological impacts of the fires. An earlier ecological assessment is here.

Continue reading “Independent review of the management of 2018/19 Tasmanian fires”

New ‘iconic’ walk with private huts planned for Tasmania’s Tyndall Range

Tasmanian premier Will Hodgman has announced that ‘Tasmania’s wild West Coast has been chosen as the preferred location for our Next Iconic Walk’.

The area selected is the remote and wild Tyndall Range. This ‘iconic walk’ will be similar to the Overland and Three Capes Tracks, where private hut networks have been built. The Range is known for its rock climbing on conglomerate cliffs up to 300m in height, glacial lakes and alpine areas and ‘out of the way’ nature.

The government says “A signature Liberal election commitment, up to $20 million will be invested to deliver our next iconic multi-day, hut-based walk which will enhance the visitor economy throughout the entire region”. According to the proponent, the proposal includes the option of “a private walking company .. investing in the development of private lodges similar to that of Three Capes Track”.

Continue reading “New ‘iconic’ walk with private huts planned for Tasmania’s Tyndall Range”

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