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«Reactive Monitoring Mission to the Tasmanian Wilderness, Australia 23 - 29 November 2015 Mission Report Tilman Jaeger (IUCN) Christophe Sand PhD ...»

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International Council on Monuments and Sites - ICOMOS

International Union for Conservation of Nature - IUCN

Reactive Monitoring Mission to the

Tasmanian Wilderness, Australia

23 - 29 November 2015

Mission Report

Tilman Jaeger (IUCN)

Christophe Sand PhD (ICOMOS)









3.1 The on-going Management Planning Process

3.2 Thematic Areas of particular World Heritage Concern

3.2.1 Commercial Logging

3.2.2 Mineral Exploration and Extraction

3.2.3 Gravel Extraction

3.2.4 Tourism and Recreation

3.2.5 Wilderness and Wilderness Zones

3.3 Land within the Property not subject to the Management Plan

3.4 Cultural Survey

3.5 Finalizing the retrospective Statement of Outstanding Universal Value

3.6 Additional Management Considerations

3.6.1 Fire Management

3.6.2 Biosecurity

3.6.3 Neighbouring areas to the TWWHA

3.7 Emerging Joint Management involving the Tasmanian Aboriginal Community.............. 29






Annex 1: World Heritage Committee Decision 39COM 7B.35 (2015)

Annex 2: Terms of Reference

Annex 3: Mission Agenda as conducted

Annex 4: People met during the Mission

Annex 5: Boundary Map of the Tasmanian Wilderness in 1982, 1989, 2010, 2012, 2013... 47 Annex 6: Photographic Documentation

Annex 7: Australia’s statutory World Heritage Management Principles

Annex 8: Draft retrospective Statement of Outstanding Universal Value

Cover photograph: ©IUCN/Tilman Jaeger iii


The mission would like to sincerely thank both the Commonwealth Government of Australia and the Government of Tasmania for the hospitality, flawless logistics and the open and pleasant cooperation throughout the mission. We are particularly grateful to the colleagues with the Australian Department of the Environment who joined the field mission, Stephen Oxley and Deborah Purss, as well as John Whittington, Tim Baker and Cheryle Hislop with Tasmania’s Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment. The personal meetings with high-level representatives of both levels of governments illustrated the exceptional importance of the property and were very much appreciated. The mission owes a debt of gratitude to UNESCO, ICOMOS and IUCN staff for their full support throughout the mission and helpful comments on draft versions of this report.

The independent and purely technical advisory role of the mission was understood and respected by all consulted during the mission. Despite differing and at times starkly polarized perspectives, all people consulted were united in acknowledging the extraordinary cultural and natural values of the World Heritage property. We would like to sincerely thank all representatives of the Tasmanian Aboriginal Community, the numerous environmental NGOs, various political parties and governmental institutions, academic colleagues, independent consultants and representatives of the tourism and specialty timber sectors for sharing their views. The team made every effort to list all people met in person or interviewed by phone in Annex 4. The team would like to apologize for possible omissions in the list, which would be unintentional and exclusively its responsibility.

–  –  –


The Tasmanian Wilderness, hereafter the TWWHA, is a mixed World Heritage property exceeding 1.5 million hectares, roughly one fourth of Tasmania, Australia’s southernmost state. The TWWHA is a rare World Heritage property inscribed under as many as 7 out of the 10 World Heritage criteria: “cultural” criteria (iii), (iv) and (vi), as well as all four “natural” criteria (vii), (viii), (ix) and (x). In response to a number of concerns, the World Heritage Committee at its 39th Session (39COM 7B.35, Bonn, 2015) requested the State Party of Australia to invite a joint IUCN/ICOMOS Reactive Monitoring Mission (RMM) to the TWWHA “in order to review and provide advice for the revision of the management plan, prior to any decision to finalise the plan, on the survey of cultural attributes and on the re-drafting of the retrospective SOUV, and also to assess the state of conservation of the property as a whole”.

The ongoing elaboration of a new management plan to replace the existing one, which came into force in 1999, provides opportunities for public consultation. One noteworthy particularity of the TWWHA and the management planning process is that not all land within the property is subject to the TWWHA management plan. In fact, some three per cent of the TWWHA cannot be subject to management plans according to applicable legislation. Nevertheless, all recommendations by the mission refer to the mixed World Heritage property in its entirety and every effort should be made to ensure that eventually one coherent framework will guide the management of the whole property. Concretely, this could be achieved in most of the areas under consideration by changing the legal status of the land under consideration.

The public consultation process, which is part of the elaboration of the management plan, has confirmed both very strong interest in the TWWHA and a broad range of opinions. In terms of consumptive resource use, (World Heritage) concerns include commercial logging, mineral exploration and extraction and gravel extraction. The mission notes and fully supports the widespread view that mineral exploration and extraction are inadequate activities within the TWWHA, which is reflected in the Draft Management Plan. The views and current suggestions are more nuanced as regards commercial logging. Some stakeholders support commercial logging, in particular so-called “special species timber harvesting” to supply a number of niche wood products. While the mission considers the demand legitimate per se, it does not consider a World Heritage property recognized for its outstanding cultural and natural values the place to experiment with commercial logging of any kind. On balance and in line with the above Committee decision the mission recommends that the property be off limits to any commercial logging, mineral exploration and extraction. Gravel extraction deserves a more detailed consideration, as limited and controlled local gravel extraction to meet road maintenance needs is conceivably preferable to importing gravel from elsewhere due to biosecurity risks.

Tourism and recreation are longstanding, important and widely accepted uses of the TWWHA.

However, the adequate intensity, location and management of tourism and recreation continue to be subject to controversy. Processes in parallel to the ongoing elaboration of the Draft Management Plan have created room for interpretation and even suspicions. The very broad range of often incompatible opinions expressed to the mission illustrates that common ground remains to be found. In the view of the mission, the future management can and should establish a guiding framework acceptable to all involved, while also stipulating the elaboration of a specific and participatory Tourism Master Plan, which will refine where and under what conditions tourism and recreation can and should take place in the future. Existing wilderness terminology and Wilderness Zones should be maintained, while making it very clear that the applied interpretation of “wilderness” must not contradict the longstanding Aboriginal history of all of Tasmania and the aspirations of the contemporary Tasmanian Aboriginal Community.

–  –  –

including the World Heritage Committee, to request a comprehensive cultural survey. The intended cultural survey is welcome by most, if not all, stakeholders. The cultural survey does, however, raise important technical questions and, even more important, sensitive methodological and political questions. Major investment in human and financial resources is needed, as well as meaningful Aboriginal involvement and leadership. In the view of the mission, the process should acknowledge and encompass inevitably sensitive debates both within the Tasmanian Aboriginal Community and between the latter and other stakeholders.

Progress made in the cultural survey is expected to facilitate the finalization of the draft retrospective Statement of Outstanding Universal Value.

The mission identified fire management, biosecurity and the need to consider the linkages between the property and the broader landscape and seascape as major additional management issues. All require strong and permanent attention, which can only be ensured by a coordinated approach of all involved levels of government, leadership, stakeholder participation and adequate human and financial resources at all times. In line with its legally defined mandate, the National Parks and Wildlife Advisory Council (NPWAC), a statutory body with an independent advisory role, could provide a constructive and much needed forum to support informed decision-making. It appears that the body’s potential remains to be fully realized.

The mission concludes that the property continues to be in an overall good state of conservation, while noting important information gaps and a multitude of tangible and potential threats. To address these gaps and threats, including through the future management plan, the mission offers the recommendations listed hereafter.

Recommendation 1 The Tasmanian Government should consider options to take full advantage of NPWAC, in line with the provisions of the National Parks and Reserves Management Act (2002), and a consolidated NPWAC should include adequate involvement of the Tasmanian Aboriginal Community.

Recommendation 2 The State Party should confirm an unambiguous commitment that the property is off-limits to commercial logging in its entirety, and fully reflect this commitment in the Management Plan for the whole of the property.

Recommendation 3 The State Party should confirm an unambiguous commitment that the property is off-limits to mineral exploration and extraction in its entirety and fully reflect this commitment in the Management Plan for the whole of the property.

Recommendation 4 Gravel use derived from borrow pits for maintenance needs within the property should be minimised. The State Party should conduct a comprehensive review of the road network with the objective to close and rehabilitate non-essential roads so as to reduce the future demand for gravel among other benefits.

3 Recommendation 5 Essential existing gravel extraction for ongoing local maintenance in the property should be

guided by the following principles across the property, including the excisions within it:

• No import of gravel to the property should be permitted, in order to minimize biosecurity risks;

• No export of gravel from the property should be permitted, and uses should be restricted to the maintenance of existing infrastructure 1;

• New borrow pits should not be permitted;

• Any significant change to current practice in relation to increased gravel need with potential to impact the property, to be notified to the World Heritage Committee prior to any decisions being taken on how to address this by the State Party.

Recommendation 6 In line with a recent Committee request (Decision 39 COM 7B.35), the Management Plan should establish strict criteria for new tourism development within the property, which would be in line with the primary goal of protecting the property’s OUV, including its wilderness character and cultural attributes.

Recommendation 7 The comprehensive Tourism Master Plan details should refine the balance between legitimate tourism development and the management and conservation of the cultural and natural values of the TWWHA based on further consultation and negotiation of competing interests.

Recommendation 8 The term “wilderness” should be retained in the property name, while future dual naming is strongly encouraged to reflect both the Aboriginal heritage and the relationship of the Tasmanian Aboriginal Community with the property.

Recommendation 9 The “Wilderness Zone”, as currently used and interpreted, should be retained in the zonation of the TWWHA, while explicitly providing for Aboriginal access for cultural practices as an integral part of the management of the zone.

Recommendation 10 All land in the property should be managed in a way that is consistent with World Heritage status, and the recommended means to ensure such a consistent approach is to grant reserve status wherever possible. As long as there will be areas within the TWWHA not subject to the TWWHA Management Plan, adequate management of the property in its entirety should be ensured by an overarching Strategic Management Statement in line with obligations under the EPBC Act.

Recommendation 11 Future Potential Production Forest Land (FPPFL) within the property should not be convertible to Permanent Timber Production Zone Land (PTPZL) and should be granted status as national park.

Recommendation 12 A systematic stock-taking exercise should serve to compile all available information about cultural sites within the TWWHA in a synthesis report according to conditions and terms agreed by the diverse Tasmanian Aboriginal Community for submission to the World Heritage Centre by mid-2017.

Recommendation 13 A detailed proposal for a comprehensive cultural survey, a longer term initiative requiring adequate resources and full aboriginal endorsement and involvement, should be elaborated for submission to the World Heritage Centre by mid-2017 for review by ICOMOS, in consultation with IUCN. The proposal should include a calendar on survey stages over a multiyear period.

1 It can be argued that supply of gravel to maintain hydropower infrastructure located in excisions within the property constitutes an “export”. This interpretation is not implied in the recommendation.

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