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The Forum > Article Comments > Tasmania’s World Heritage Area extension all about politics > Comments

Tasmania’s World Heritage Area extension all about politics : Comments

By Mark Poynter, published 12/7/2013

UNESCO should be concerned about whether they were misled in their recent listing of additions to Tasmania’s Wilderness World Heritage Area.

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‘The 2008 Mission’s overall conclusion was that it “does not recommend any change to the boundaries of the property (the TWWHA) to deal with such threats”.’
The rest of this paragraph, not quoted, makes it clear the mission was referring to the need to change the boundary in order to protect forest already within the WHA from outside threats, not the ongoing request for the state party (Australia) to extend the boundary to include tall eucalypt forest outside its boundaries. This distinction is further clarified by the committee’s decision at its 2008 meeting in which it acknowledged the findings of the mission, requested Australia implement them, and then, reiterated ‘its request to the State Party to consider, at its own discretion, extension of the property to include appropriate areas of tall eucalyptus forest, having regard to the advice of IUCN.’ ( This request was also stated at the previous meeting in 2007 and restated at subsequent meetings. This explains why, ‘just five years later’, the committee accepted the extension; it had repeatedly asked for it. Not the explanation the author infers; that the committee was somehow hoodwinked into contradicting its own past findings. Its final decision specifically mentioned these past requests as being reason to accept it.
Regarding 10%, it is an unofficial limit, of which the IUCN said in relation to Tasmania’s nomination, “IUCN notes that the size of the property is around the unofficial upper level for consideration as a minor boundary modification (which has been considered as typically c.10%). IUCN considers that it is reasonable and appropriate for the Committee to approve the proposal through the minor modification process, given…” (see IUCN report to the World Heritage Committee for full reasons,
On a pedantic note, some jurisdictions which might have more of their land in world heritage than Tasmania include; the Galapogos province of Ecuador, the Darien Province of Panama, the Southland region of New Zealand and Uthai Thani Province of Thailand...
Posted by Russell Warman, Friday, 12 July 2013 1:23:57 PM
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A well researched article exposing many of the flaws of this massive 172,000 ha extension to the World Heritage area, that does not just modify the boundary but leaps across towns, roads, bridges and clear felled plantation to add already reserved areas overlooked in the past, such as the Mt Field National Park created in 1916.

The outstanding universal value for the extension is claimed to be tall eucalypt forest, coloured red on the map at however despite being presented by an “expert”, a former wilderness society forest campaigner assisting Peter Hitchcock the technical adviser mentioned in the article. This map that shows that Tall Eucalypt forest is already well represented was not sent to the World Heritage committee.

Perhaps this was because the expert monitoring team had in 2008 found The TWWHA and areas managed under its management plan, contains 90,900ha or 38% of Tasmania’s tall old growth forests dominated by the four named Eucalyptus species and recommended:
"The area managed under the TWWHA management plan provides a good representation of well-managed tall Eucalyptus forest and there is similar forest outside the property which is also well-managed, but for both conservation and development objectives. The threats to these forests from production forestry activities are well managed and there no need for the boundary of the property to be changed to deal with such threats.” [In full quotation]

Yet this expert monitoring report was attacked by the green groups and even the IUCN itself and demands for minor extensions continued. Now the massive extension includes thousands of hectares harvested forest, once claimed to be destroyed, many hundreds of kilometres of roads and will now neighbour century old farms that now will be forced to seek permission under the EPBC Act for any action that may impact the world Heritage values.

Luckily because the massive extension was dubbed ‘minor’, it can be reversed by a new Federal Government, as removing the area, just like adding it, will have no significant impact to the existing outstanding universal values!
Posted by cinders, Friday, 12 July 2013 7:50:58 PM
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Cinders has responded to some of your points.

Undoubtedly there are some areas that deserve to be included in a WHA extension, but it is clear that there is much that isn't worthy of inclusion. If the World Heritage Committee has been calling for some of these forests to be added to the TWWHA for some time, I doubt that they would have envisaged this including substantial areas without WH values as has occurred because the nomination was manipulated to avoid meaningful assessment.

The pre-eminent role of politics in Tasmania's WHA extension is further exemplified by Christine Milne being Vice-President of the IUCN from 2005 to 2008. Since then Australia's IUCN representative has been an ANU academic well known for his public advocacy of 'saving' forests for carbon and thereby ending timber production. Most notably, he was the lead author of the Green Carbon paper which was part-funded by the Wilderness Society through its financial partnership with ANU.

Given that the IUCN advises the WHCommitte, its linkages to Australian 'green' ideology suggest it is unsurprising that the Committee has been urging the Aust Govt to add more areas to the TWWHA as you claim.

Regarding Tasmania having the highest proportion of its land area listed as World Heritage - this comes from an essay by Peter Hay of UTAS.
Posted by MWPOYNTER, Saturday, 13 July 2013 9:25:35 AM
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Hi Mark,

I couldn’t get past your opening comment. That “Tasmania’s World Heritage Area extension all about politics”.

That’s it really, you’ve said all that needs to be said. All over the western world, in every domain (Social, political, economic, religious, environmental and scientific), politicians, academics, NGO’s and some of our media, rely upon, (lean on) one of the many UN organisations to substantiate their “opposition” to something. So what’s new?

I once owned and operated a classic NSW country Store. Bottle shop, restaurant, Bank agency, Post Office, petrol station, news agency, gifts, snack bar, videos, music nights, functions and grocery. Everything a remote country community could possibly need.

After investing in some renovations to restore the “Store” to it’s 1890’s heritage I received multiple representations from a “committee” of local interested parties to gain my support for “Heritage Listing” of our business. It even came with nominations of those locals who would assist in “running” our business for us and even offered to tell us how many staff our business needed and what color they recommended for the exterior?

After a couple of meetings with these people, I suggested that rather than them having influence on our business, I would rather burn it down and claim on the insurance.

Funny, I never heard from them again. I lost their custom but gained massive support from our “real” customers.

Politics? Yeah right.
Posted by spindoc, Saturday, 13 July 2013 3:23:44 PM
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The development of this sham minor boundary modification of a massive 172,000 ha by the Greens as claimed by Christine Milne demonstrates politics over science.

It compares with the ALP’s Government in 2010 when Kevin Rudd had a majority:
“In response to the Committee’s request, Australia is pleased to provide a proposal for modifying the boundaries of the TWWHA which adds a total of 23,873 hectares to this property which already extends to 1.38 million hectares, or 20% of the State of Tasmania.

These 21 adjacent formal reserves increased the representation of tall eucalypt forests and cultural sites of significance to the Aboriginal community in the property and the Southwest Conservation Area south of Melaleuca to Cox Bight, had been identified in the Regional Forest Agreement and other science based studies.

However, Kevin Rudd’s Government told the World Heritage Committee “Australia restates that it does not propose to extend the boundary of the TWWHA further”.

This response was in line with the 2007 election promise of no additional forest reserves in Tasmania and maintained a bipartisan approach, backing the 2007 report of the Liberal Government. This report included descriptions of areas outside the WHA that now in 2013 have been added to the boundary, Smoko Creek, clear felled and burnt in the 1960’s is shown at page 33 of this extensive report at

Not only should the politics be questioned, but has the IUCN, the Committee’s key adviser been compromised. Former PM Gillard promised a robust independent verification of green claims on Tasmania forests, yet appointed Brendan Mackey to oversee the conservation values, Mackey was the Australian representative on the IUCN, and he was a founding member of the Wilderness society’s wildcountry science panel. Mackey in turn used Peter Hitchcock, a former consultant to the ENGOs and author of their World Heritage report, to independently verify the ENGO claims on World Heritage Values.

In order to accept the extension, the IUCN totally over rode their advice to the 2012 committee meeting that 10% was the absolute maximum for a ‘minor’ modification, see Page 75.
Posted by cinders, Sunday, 14 July 2013 8:54:40 PM
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Gremlins of PDF and linked documents,

The 2007 State Party report in my last post is actually page 31 in the document, but electronic page 33, you can also see the harvesting at Mother Cummings peak that generated mass protest, that is now added to the TWWHA.

The second PDF link has changed to, and states on the electronic page 75 right hand column
"b) the size of the amendment would be large relative to the existing property. A notional cut-off of 10% increase has generally been considered to be the absolute upper limit for a modification to be considered via the “minor modification” process, considering the Operational Guidelines clearly define such modification as having a minor impact on the extent of the property."

The link to the 2010 State party report with the Government stating no intesntion to further extend the boundary is on page iv, or electronic page 8.
Posted by cinders, Sunday, 14 July 2013 9:12:02 PM
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