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Drone use in Tasmania’s national parks and reserves

Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA), also known as Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) and more commonly drones; are defined as ‘an aircraft’. Their operation and use is subject to the requirements of the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA); and when used on or over reserved land, governed by the National Parks and Reserved Land Regulations 2009. Therefore the operation and use of drones on reserved land is not permitted unless a specific written authority from the Parks and Wildlife Service has been obtained.

Advances in technology have resulted in a rapid increase in the affordability and popularity of drones. The Parks and Wildlife Service (PWS) recognises that much of the land under its care and management will be attractive to drone users on a number of levels, including spectacular scenery and wildlife, wide-open spaces, use for research and management tasks such as monitoring changes to the environment and filming of recreational pursuits. 
The operation of drones in PWS reserves raises a number of issues with the potential for a range of negative impacts, including: 

  • disturbance to wildlife and the potential to impact animal breeding patterns and behaviour, particularly birds (e.g. eagles and other raptors, shorebirds) 
  • impact on visitor experience (intrusion and nuisance factor – visual disturbance and noise, especially at key visitor sites where drones are known to disturb others and detract from the quality of the visitor experience)
  • issues relating to privacy of other park users (unauthorised filming) 
  • safety issues; including the potential for collision, and drones being flown when it is not safe to do so such as around helicopter operations and during fire management operations.

Flying Drones Recreationally: Personal recreational use of drones in national parks and other reserves managed by PWS is not permitted. The PWS may in the future declare areas for personal recreational use of drones. This policy position reflects the PWS responsibility to protect and conserve natural and cultural values, and to provide opportunities for visitors to appreciate and safely enjoy Tasmania’s parks and reserves. 

Commercial and Event Filming: Use of drones to support commercial filming and the filming of approved events in national parks and reserves managed by PWS can be considered. Applications will be assessed as part of the commercial filming application or event approval process and, where approved, will require a remotely piloted aircraft authority in addition to the filming agreement.

Scientific Research: Use of drones to support scientific, management or education purposes will be assessed as part of the application for the particular activity, and where approved will require a separate remotely piloted aircraft authority. 

CASA Certification: CASA regulate RPA through the Civil Aviation Safety Regulations [CASR] Part 101.

The PWS requires all RPA operators and pilots to be CASA certified. This applies to all categories of RPA including very small RPA (sub 2kg). The meeting of industry standards demonstrates that that the RPA pilot has an appropriate level of aviation knowledge and operating proficiency. This requirement assists PWS fulfil its obligations relating to the protection of people, wildlife and the environment.  

Reporting Drone activities: 
  • Report unauthorised / illegal drone use on reserved land including postings on the internet to the PWS. Email the PWS compliance team at compliance@parks.tas.gov.au; or contact the local PWS office
  • Reports about unsafe and dangerous RPA activity (i.e. breach of CASA’s Flying with Control rules) should be made directly to CASA by telephoning 131 757 or on-line at https://www.casa.gov.au/webform/unsafe-drone-operations-complaint-form 
  • Where public safety is at risk, report the incident to the local Police. This includes drone flying during a public safety and emergency operation.

For further information contact – telephone (03) 6165 4260