In a media release Environment Minister, Peter Garrett, yesterday welcomed the World Heritage Committee’s consideration at its meeting in Quebec, Canada, of an expert report on Australia’s management of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area.
The report, prepared by an expert mission sent by the World Heritage Committee to Tasmania in March, was based on extensive consultation, field research and rigorous examination of many long standing issues.
“It is pleasing the experts concluded that the outstanding universal values of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area are being satisfactorily managed, as are potential threats from production forestry outside the World Heritage boundary”, Mr Garrett said.
The mission also found that the Regional Forest Agreement and Tasmania’s forest practices system provide an appropriate framework for managing conservation values outside of the World Heritage Area.
The World Heritage Committee suggested a number of additional measures to enhance protection of possible values outside the existing World Heritage Area. These include possible adjustment of the World Heritage Area to include 21 areas of national parks and state reserves that are already covered by the World Heritage management plan but currently outside the boundary, and enhancing resources and capacity for the conservation of archaeological and Aboriginal sites.
Mr Garrett noted that both the Australian and Tasmanian Governments have responsibilities in relation to the World Heritage Area and would cooperate in carefully considering the implications of the World Heritage Committee recommendations.
The Australian Government agreed in-principle with the recommendations to extend the 1.3 million hectare Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area to include the additional 21 formal reserves recommended by the expert mission.
Mr Garrett also noted that the expert mission found no extension of the World Heritage area into tall eucalypt forests was warranted as the World Heritage area already includes a good representation of tall eucalypts. This contrasted with the World Heritage Committee’s request to consider, at Australia’s discretion, a further extension of the World Heritage Area in these forests.
The Australian Government has no plans to extend the current boundary into production forests.
Mr Garrett said that the Australian Government agreed in principle with the recommendations of the five yearly review of the implementation of the Tasmanian Regional Forest Agreement and is working with the Tasmanian Government towards this implementation.
The Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area is one of 17 World Heritage properties in Australia. Inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1982, and extended in 1989, the Tasmanian Wilderness is one of the world’s largest World Heritage Areas and covers 20% of the entire Tasmanian landmass.