Encompassing over 1.58 million hectares, the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area (TWWHA) occupies almost a quarter of Tasmania and is one of the largest temperate natural areas in the southern hemisphere. The area is formally recognised as a World Heritage property through the World Heritage Convention on the basis of three cultural heritage and four natural heritage criteria and is one of only two properties listed under the Convention for this many criteria.
The World Heritage Convention aims to promote cooperation among nations to protect heritage around the world that is of such outstanding universal value on a global scale that its conservation is important for current and future generations. As a participating nation in the Convention, Australia has agreed to identify, protect, conserve, present and transmit the cultural and natural heritage of the TWWHA and to ensure an appropriate management system is in place for the property.
The stunning and diverse range of landforms, the unique biodiversity, and aesthetic qualities of the area are enriched by the long occupation by Tasmanian Aboriginal people. The TWWHA has significant value in terms of its contribution to the social and economic wellbeing of all Tasmanians. It has important recreational, health, educational and aesthetic values as well as providing highly valuable ecosystem services and is a significant contributor to the Tasmanian economy, in particular through tourism and energy generation.
The property was first inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1982 and has been subsequently expanded several times with a major extension in 1989 and minor boundary modifications in 2010, 2012 and 2013. The June 2013 minor boundary modification added approximately 170 000 hectares to the TWWHA including additional areas of tall eucalypt forest.
Since inscription on the World Heritage List, the TWWHA has been managed under a partnership arrangement between the Australian and Tasmanian Governments which ensures the protection of its outstanding natural and cultural heritage. The TWWHA is comprised predominantly of reserves managed by the Tasmanian Parks and Wildlife Service in the Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment (DPIPWE), although some smaller areas are managed by other entities, for example Hydro Tasmania. The majority of the area has previously been managed in accordance with the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area Management Plan 1999. The plan was outdated and did not cover the extensions made to the TWWHA in 2012 and 2013. In 2013 the Tasmanian Government, supported by the Commonwealth Government, committed to the development of a contemporary management plan for the TWWHA.
A Project Team within DPIPWE was established to oversee the formulation of the new management plan.
The formulation of the management plan is a statutory process set out in the National Parks and Reserves Management Act 2002.
The first stage of the development of the new plan was completed with the preparation and release by the Director of National Parks and Wildlife (the Director) of a draft management plan for a public representations, following an extensive period of community and stakeholder consultation. The representation period is an important part of the development of management plans as the representations are central to the process of determining the content of a final plan. While the minimum representation period required is 30 days, to provide a greater opportunity for thorough consideration by interested members of the public, this period was extended to 63 days (19 January 2015 to 22 March 2015).
A large number of representations were received, reflecting the level of community interest in the management of the TWWHA. On behalf of the Director, the Project Team thanks all those organisations and individuals who provided a representation.
The Director reviewed all the representations received and prepared a report which includes a summary of all representations, the Director’s opinion on the merit of each representation and whether modification of the management plan may be warranted on the basis of a representation. This is known as the Director’s Report and is the second step in the process.
The third part of the process was the review by the TPC. The TPC reviewed the representations and the Director’s Report and prepared a report to the Minister. The TPC’s report to the Minister is also available from the TPC's website. The TPC found that the Director’s Report was comprehensive and adequately detailed and addressed most of the concerns and comments from representors and that, in the majority of cases, the Director adequately responded to the representations and issues raised, including proposing substantial amendments, particularly in relation to several contentious issues.
The final step is the determination of the content of the final plan to be submitted to the Governor for approval. The Act allows the Minister to make any alterations to the draft management plan that he or she considers appropriate having regard to:
- the public representations;
- the Director’s Report;
- the TPC report;
- any representation provided to the Minister by the National Parks and Wildlife Advisory Council; and
- the purposes of reservation and the management objectives for any reserved land subject to the plan.
The final draft of the management plan was signed by the Governor-in-Council on 29 November 2016. The plan came into statutory effect on 21 December 2016. The statutory powers section requires the approval of Parliament to come into effect and this will occur early in 2017.
Tasmania is a signatory to the 2009 Australian World Heritage Intergovernmental Agreement. The agreement requires the Federal Minister for the Environment to seek assurance from the States that management plans for World Heritage properties meet the agreement’s World Heritage Management Principles. The Federal Minister endorsed the plan as meeting those principles on 24 November 2016.
The Reactive Monitoring Mission
The Tasmanian and Australian governments have been continuing to work together to ensure that the TWWHA is managed in accordance with our obligations under the World Heritage Convention.
The Department has been engaged in a productive dialogue with the Commonwealth Department of the Environment and Energy and the World Heritage Centre and its technical advisory bodies (the IUCN and ICOMOS) in the preparation of the new management plan. The Reactive Monitoring Mission, which consisted of representatives from IUCN and ICOMOS, completed its visit in November 2015, and was welcomed as part of that process. Issues raised in both the monitoring mission report and in recent World Heritage Committee Decisions have been fully addressed in the new management plan through the statutory process.
The Management Plan
TWWHA Management Plan 2016 (full document):
Please note, this is a very large file and may take some time to download.