A Wilderness World Heritage Area Which Covers A Fifth Of Tasmania Is About To Be Developed Into A Tourism Hub

The Gordon River in the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area. Credit: George Apostolidis

A Wilderness World Heritage Area in Tasmania is about the be rezoned for development.

This massive 1.5 million hectare property, which covers a fifth of the state, is set for tourism developments, aircraft and ship access points and selective logging.

In a draft ­revised management plan obtained by The Australian, the area which was once described by the government as “one of the last true wilderness regions on Earth” will no longer be recognised as “wilderness”. It will be reclassified as a “natural zone”.

Parks and Heritage Minister Matthew Groom told The Australian that tourism was an important contributor in the economic wellbeing of the Tasmanian community, and that the development of the area would assist in this.

“Through the plan, the Tasmanian government is seeking to facil­itate sensible and appropriate recreational experiences, including new tourism opportunities,” he said.

“(It’s) an area to be used, celebrated and shared.”

Tasmanian parks and reserves are a major tourist drawcard, with 59% of holiday-makers in Tasmania visiting a national park – that’s over 640,000 people in 2013-2014.

A government website set up to collect potential investment interest in the area says proposals may be “an activity at a specific geographic location or it may be nature-based, resort-style accommodation”.

“It might include walking tours, helicopter flights, mountain-bike riding, river cruises, new interpretative experiences or even luxury camping escapes.”

It appears to target high-powered Chinese and international business delegates, part of the TasInvest 2014 campaign which invites these investor to look at different development opportunities in Tasmania from mining, agriculture, tourism, education, aquaculture, viticulture and more. Read more about that here.

The initial expressions of interest period closed on November 21 and now an assessment panel will evaluate submissions and provide recommendations to the minister this month.

In December 1982, the World Heritage Committee included the Western Tasmanian Wilderness National Parks into the World Heritage List in recognition of its significant natural and cultural values. In 1989 it was expanded to encompass 1.5 million hectares. This year marks its 33rd as a World Heritage site.

Read more here.

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