Ecotourism, local and indigenous people, and the conservation of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area
Kirkpatrick, JB, Ecotourism, local and indigenous people, and the conservation of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area, Journal of the Royal Society of New Zealand, 31, (4) pp. 819-829. ISSN 0303-6758 (2001) [Refereed Article]
The existence of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area (WHA) is not only a testimony to its undoubted outstanding universal natural and cultural significance, but also a reflection of a national feeling that its wild places and wild rivers should be maintained for future generations, rather than expended in hydroelectric, forestry, and pastoral development. The issue in the establishment and expansion of the WHA was economic development or none. In the cases of power, wood, and wool production the nays succeeded convincingly. The coalition that promoted the WHA consisted largely of wilderness recreationalists and natural scientists, leading to a feeling, and partial actuality, of dispossession on the part of those recreationalists, such as shooters, anglers, off-road vehicle enthusiasts, and horse riders, who defined themselves as traditional users. Recreationalists who were within the coalition, mainly bushwalkers, climbers, cavers, and rafters, have had increasing effects on the natural values of the WHA, to the degree to which limitation of some of their activities seems necessary to maintain WHA values. Yet, any such controls have been strongly resisted. Tourism developers, traditional recreationalists, and many coalition recreationalists all wish to maintain or increase activities that are in conflict with the maintenance of the values of the WHA and/or with each other. The current management plan attempted to resolve these conflicts through compromises that do not substantially affect the values, but which lack any effective mechanisms for accountability on the part of the management agency and its minister. Despite a prolonged and complicated developmental approval process, there is no means whereby the public may appeal a ministerial decision on the grounds that it is in conflict with the general objectives of the plan. This is particularly alarming given progressive commercialisation of activities in the WHA. The WHA will continue to effectively conserve and present its values if the general public sympathy for its maintenance is expressed through an effective appeals process. There is also no reason why the minority of developers and the public who are not sympathetic to all aspects of the maintenance of its values, should not gain some benefits from the area, within the constraints of ecological sustainability.