“The Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area protects one of the last true wilderness regions on Earth and encompasses a greater range of natural and cultural values than any other region on Earth”. (www.parks.tas.gov.au)
Tasmania’s 19 national parks, 5 of which are incorporated into the Wilderness WHA, encompass a diversity of unspoiled habitats and ecosystems offering refuge to unique, and often ancient, plants and animals found nowhere else on Earth.
The Tasmanian Reserve Estate includes 135,100 hectares in Marine Protected Areas, Macquarie Island MPA being 81,946 hectares. There are a further 48,500 hectares of marine and estuarine environments under reserve. While 7.9% of Tasmania’s State coastal waters is reserved, only 4.2% is in no-take areas with the majority of this concentrated around subantarctic Macquarie Island. Only 1.1% of Tasmania’s immediate coastal waters are fully protected in ‘no-take areas’. (www.parks.tas.gov.au)
The main government body responsible for the management of these protected areas is the Parks and Wildlife Service [PWS] within the Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment. As a government body, the Parks and Wildlife Service is still responsible to the policies of the government of the time.
Conflict over management of these areas arises around the familiar opposing needs of resource collection [forestry, mining, fishing] and preservation of biodiversity and heritage.
Linking Tourism and Conservation (LT&C) is important to Tasmania, as over recent decades tourism has become a significant form of revenue for the State’s economy. A major focal point for the Tasmanian tourist industry is the presence of substantial areas of Wilderness and Natural reserve – both marine and terrestrial – along with the image of being ‘clean and green’. It is therefore vital to the growth of this industry and its contribution the State’s economy that tourism is linked to the source of interest and contributes to the preservation of its base. The present State Government of Tasmania has asked for expressions of interest from the tourist industry for possible developments within the World Heritage Area and other National Parks. It can only be of benefit that membership of an international organization such as LT&C gives positive examples of tourism and conservation which can stand as guidelines when such action is contemplated.
Tasmania is a large island State off the south coast of mainland Australia. It is one of 6 states and 2 territories that make up the Commonwealth of Australia and is responsible for the governance of a number of smaller islands around its coastline including the Bass Strait islands of King, Cape Barren and Flinders and the southern ocean island of Macquarie. Mainland Tasmania is approximately 92610 sq kilometres, approximately 5400 kilometres of coastline, with a population of 514,684 (ABS March 2014). Tasmania has had a history of valuing conservation and protection of natural heritage – the Scenery Preservation Board (1915) had set aside much of Tasmania’s environment for future generations, including Mount Field and Freycinet Peninsula National Parks (1916), Port Arthur Historic Site (1916) and Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park (1922).
Since the 1970s conservation and protection of natural heritage has increased. Of the 92610 sq kilometres around 41,674.5 sq km (45%) are under some form of conservation and/or protected status. Of the 5400 kilometres of coastline 48500 hectares (not including the Marine Protected Area of Macquarie Island) is classified as Marine Protected Areas – this does not mean they are exclusive ‘No Take Zones’ but have recognised status as containing important and unique biodiversity.Protected Areas: The protected areas of Tasmania consist of South West World Heritage Wilderness Area (15840 sq km, WH listing in 1982), Macquarie Island World Heritage Area, 19 National Parks, 420 Reserves, some Crown land and Marine Protected areas.