Cassy O'Connor MP | Greens Leader
Forty years ago on this day, as conservationists blockaded the Franklin River, the UNESCO World Heritage Committee inscribed the Tasmanian Wilderness on the World Heritage list.
It took seven more months, and a High Court decision on the proposed Gordon-below-Franklin dam, before Robin Gray’s bulldozers ground to a halt, but a wild river was left to run free and extraordinary rainforests and heathlands were saved for the world.
The relentless determination and courage of conservationists over decades is a major part of the story of protecting lutruwita/Tasmania’s incredible wilderness. We owe them a debt of gratitude for fighting so hard to save the Franklin and the SW wilderness from destruction.
The declaration of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area on 14 December 1982 established the nation’s first World Heritage property.
The Tasmanian Greens have played a pivotal role in articulating, defending and extending the TWWHA. Under the Labor Green Accord in 1989, the TWWHA was extended with the inclusion of the Hartz Mountain, Walls of Jerusalem, a large part of the Central Plateau, the Eldon Range, parts of the lower Gordon, and several reserves along the Great Western Tiers.
Again, under the Labor Green government between 2010-14, the TWWHA was extended to include forests of global significance, a move that was fought by then Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, and the newly elected Liberal Premier, Will Hodgman.
Fortunately, they failed and today this wilderness World Heritage treasure spans 1.58 million hectares, covering 23% of the State.
Not only is the TWWHA a place of great, wild beauty, it’s the only property on the World Heritage List with the word ‘wilderness’ in its name. It’s one of the planet’s most valuable World Heritage places, satisfying 7 of 10 criteria for natural and cultural values.
It is also a social and economic boon to this island, drawing visitors here from all over the world to experience true wilderness.
As we mark the TWWHA’s 40th birthday, it’s important to remember it still faces threats from climate change and commercial development. As its history shows, however, generation after generation of Tasmanians from all walks of life have demonstrated their great love for this beautiful, ancient place and determination to defend it from any and every threat.
Happy Birthday to the TWWHA.