Vica Bayley MP | Greens Parks spokesperson
The Tasmanian Greens heartily welcome the adoption of the retrospective Statement of Outstanding Universal Values (rSOUV) of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area (TWWHA) by UNESCO. The statement’s detailed explanation of natural and cultural values – including its acknowledgement of the long and ongoing connection of Aboriginal people to the area and its landscapes – is a reminder of just how unique our island home really is.
Wilderness is increasingly rare around the world, making Tasmania incredibly special. The adopted statement emphasises the globally unique nature of our World Heritage area and the prominence of wilderness. In expressing importance of protecting the ‘integrity’ of the property, the statement says “its large extent, remoteness, and quality of wilderness is the foundation for the integrity of its natural and cultural values.”
Of course, it’s not only natural values found in the World Heritage area. The immense cultural values contained within the TWWHA dominate the UNESCO statement, and rightly so. This island, lutruwita, has been home to the Tasmanian Aboriginal people tens of thousands of years. Their presence is etched throughout the landscape and we salute the palawa for their custodianship and we note ongoing delays in Government action to strengthen the woefully inadequate Aboriginal Heritage Act.
The significance of wilderness to the World Heritage listing highlights the threat of ill-conceived tourism developments like those proposed for Lake Malbena, the South Coast Track and the luxury lodge development in the Walls of Jerusalem. Short-sighted commercial gain through the development and degradation of wilderness areas would forever erode wild values and undermine Australia’s credibility on the international World Heritage stage.
This new statement makes a mockery of the Liberal Government’s secretive EOI process for tourism developments & reinforces calls for it to be scrapped. It should also make it impossible for Federal Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek to approve the Lake Malbena development.
The Liberals need to stop pushing for development inside the World Heritage area, and they need to let the Parks and Wildlife Service get back to the core business of caring for our global treasure.
The Tasmanian Greens will always stand by the sides of wilderness defenders and the Tasmanian Aboriginal community, and it’s time the Liberal and Labor parties did too.