Mountain Journal

Environment, news, culture from the Australian Alps


World Heritage

Tasmania’s south-west threatened by drought and fire

Mountain Journal has often reported on the threats to remnant ancient forests in lutruwita/ Tasmania. Vegetation that dates back to the time when Australia was a part of the Gondwana super continent remain in mountain and low land areas in the centre and west of the state, and are under threat from climate change driven fire regimes.

For instance, this story reports on the drying trend that has been noted in south western Tasmania which has seen a steady increase in bushfires ignited by lightning, threatening the survival of Tasmania’s Gondwanan legacy.

A recent story from Zoe Kean, published on the Tasmanian Inquirer website (available here) highlights the threats to these vegetation communities.

Continue reading “Tasmania’s south-west threatened by drought and fire”

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”

Tasmanian Wilderness Guides Association calls for halt on developments within World Heritage Areas

The South Coast Track travels 85k m from Melaleuca to Cockle Creek along the coastline of south western lutruwita/ Tasmania. It traverses wild beaches and mountains and feels like one of the most remote places on earth. The landscape that the track passes through is a part of the massive Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area (TWWHA) that protects most of the south west of the state.

As part of the state government’s agenda to see more private development within World Heritage and national parks, a seven-day guided walk has been proposed for the South Coast Track, which would include six walkers’ privately operated huts built.

Continue reading “Tasmanian Wilderness Guides Association calls for halt on developments within World Heritage Areas”

Huon Pine reserve threatened by fire

There is currently a bushfire burning at Olegas Bluff within the Franklin-Gordon Wild Rivers National Park in south western lutruwita/ Tasmania.

The Parks and Wildlife Service is undertaking air-based suppression works in the area. The fire is not yet contained and the cause of the fire is yet to be determined.

The most disturbing aspect of this fire is that it threatens the Truchanas Pine Forest, which contains globally significant Huon Pine trees.

Continue reading “Huon Pine reserve threatened by fire”

Fires in south west Tasmania

A number of small fires are burning in World Heritage Areas in lutruwita/ Tasmania. At this point details on each fire is fairly scare. This post will be updated as extra details arrive. Initial post: JAN 31, 2022.

Continue reading “Fires in south west Tasmania”

‘Wildfires, deforestation and global heating turn 10 Unesco forests into carbon sources’

A recent report looked into the impacts of climate change and other human activity on protected areas. It was pretty much as you would expect – these areas, protected because of their special values, are now at risk. According to various media stories (for instance this one in The Guardian) ‘Forests in at least 10 Unesco world heritage sites have become net sources of carbon since the turn of the millennium due to wildfires, deforestation and global heating’.

While this report takes a global perspective, it does contain details on two Australian systems – the Greater Blue Mountains Area and Tasmanian World Heritage Area – there are also some details relevant more broadly to protected areas in mountain areas of south eastern Australia.

Continue reading “‘Wildfires, deforestation and global heating turn 10 Unesco forests into carbon sources’”

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”

Big win for campaign against Lake Malbena ‘helicopter tourism’ proposal

In big news, the campaign against the proposal for a controversial ‘helicopter tourism’ development in a remote part of lutruwita/ Tasmania received a significant boost today.

The Wilderness Society, supported by the Environment Defenders Office, has won an appeal against the proposal.

The proposal will now return to the Resource Management and Planning Appeal Tribunal (RMPAT), who will be asked to reassess it and take into consideration its impact on wilderness world heritage values.

For background on this proposal, please check here.

IMAGE: Dan Broun.

UNESCO pushes back against the privatisation of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area 

Many thousands of people campaigned for years to see the best areas of wild Tasmania protected in national parks, World Heritage and other conservation reserves. However, the current Liberal state government continues its efforts to open up these areas to commercial development via tourism ventures.

While the plans for a ‘helicopter’ tourism venture at Lake Malbena on the Central Plateau has been generating a lot of community opposition, a range of other, lesser known projects are also being pursued by a number of developers.

There has been a recent meeting of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) which considered the ‘In Danger’ listing of the Great Barrier Reef. The Australian government’s efforts to avoid this listing received a huge amount of coverage. There was another issue which got far less coverage, but which includes some much better news.

UNESCO has put the government on notice over it’s privatisation agenda: any development that impacts upon the World Heritage Area’s Outstanding Universal Values must be referred back to the Committee for review.

Continue reading “UNESCO pushes back against the privatisation of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area “

Lessons from the Tasmanian fires of 2018/19: state has entered a ‘new era of bushfire risk’

Over the summer of 2018/19 huge fires burnt across Tasmania. An independent review of Tasmania’s management of the summer bushfires was released in August 2019. It found inadequacies in the response to the 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.

The report made a series of recommendations

Now, a comprehensive study examining the 2018/19 and the experience of authorities and affected groups by Insurance Group Zurich has found that the state has entered a ‘new era of bushfire risk’.

“Since the turn of the millennium, climate change and land use change have converged to bring about a new fire regime in Tasmania,” Zurich’s first Australian Post-Event Review Capability (PERC) report said.

More than two thousand dry lightning strikes hit the state during that summer, igniting 70 fires that formed into four massive fire complexes. Over 95,000 hectares of protected land was burnt.

Continue reading “Lessons from the Tasmanian fires of 2018/19: state has entered a ‘new era of bushfire risk’”

Mixed reactions to release of the Tourism Master Plan for the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area

The long-awaited Tourism Master Plan (TMP) for the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area (TWWHA) has now been released by the new Parks Minister for Tasmania, Jacquie Petrusma. Given the many attempts by the Tasmanian government to promote commercial tourism in Wilderness and World Heritage Areas, there is a lot resting on this plan.

Continue reading “Mixed reactions to release of the Tourism Master Plan for the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area”

National poll finds overwhelming support for protecting Australia’s wilderness

As a number of state governments continue to pursue commercial tourism options  in national parks and World Heritage Areas, a recent poll shows that these moves are out of step with community opinion. A Roy Morgan poll has found 90% of Australians support the protection of Australia’s wilderness areas. Of significance is the fact that support is high across the political spectrum, with 86% of Coalition voters, 92% of Labor voters and 94% of Greens voters agreeing wilderness should be protected.

Continue reading “National poll finds overwhelming support for protecting Australia’s wilderness”

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