Australia has been given a positive scorecard for its management of he Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area, in the World Heritage Committee’s 2016 State of Conservation report.
Among measures commenced include a commitment to protecting the wilderness area from mining and the development of joint management arrangements with the Tasmanian Aboriginal Community.
However the report identified tourism and fire damage as posing threats to conservation, and requiring special management.
“The exemplary commitment of both the Australian and the Tasmanian Governments to consider the property off limits for any commercial resource extraction, to integrate the natural and cultural values of the property in the management approach and to develop joint management arrangements with the Tasmanian Aboriginal Community should be strongly welcomed,” the report states.
“[However] the recent fires in Tasmania are a strong reminder of the need to consider fire as both a natural disturbance factor and a major anthropogenic threat in management planning within and beyond the property.”
WHC’s annual review rates governments on their management of a World Heritage Area, highlighting risk factors and conservation issues as presented to the committee.
Environment Minister Greg Hunt said the report acknowledged progress made addressing requests made in past reports.
“The decision is a major milestone for Australia. It acknowledges the progress we have made…[and] the commitment of the Australian and Tasmanian governments in having accepted all 20 recommendations of the November 2015 monitoring mission to the property.”
“The Tasmanian and Australian governments will work together to ensure the Tasmanian Wilderness continues to be managed in accordance with our obligations under the World Heritage Convention.”
The report comes after the Australian Government made its States Parties SOC Report submission in April of this year.
The lengthy document noted that the area was in “overall good state of conservation in regard to its natural values”, but noted it faced “a number of threats likely to be aggravated by climate change.”
It confirmed that both governments will prevent mining or commercial logging from occurring in the wilderness area.
The World Heritage Commission highlighted the impact of tourism as being potentially detrimental to the site, but welcomed the commitment to “strict assessment criteria for all tourism development proposals”.
It also noted a “legitimate Aboriginal interest in more meaningful involvement in site interpretation and adequate tourism development, so as to adequately convey the Aboriginal history of the property and to seize employment and income opportunities.”
The WHC encouraged Tasmanian and Australian Government’s to explore the possibility of dual naming for the property. This would reflect “its wilderness character, its Aboriginal heritage and the relationship of the Tasmanian Aboriginal Community with the property.”
The World Heritage Committee meets in its 40th session from 10-20 July in Istanbul, Turkey.