Our Latest News

Horsetail Falls walk now open

15/11/2017

Visitors to the West Coast are in for some spectacular views on the new Horsetail Falls walk near Queenstown.More

Bruny Island Neck lookout re-opens

10/11/2017

The walkways and lookout at the Bruny Island Neck will re-open to the public today, following the completion of a new, larger car park that will provide improved access to the popular lookout.More

Maintaining vigilance with campfires

03/11/2017

Parks and Wildlife Service staff have thanked the many campers who have heeded the restrictions placed on campfires and pot fires, but ask that park and reserve visitors continue to take care while the fire risk remains high in certain areas of the State.More

World Heritage Values

Wilderness

The word wilderness means different things to different people. For many, wilderness brings to mind uninhabited natural areas unimpacted by human activities. For others, wilderness suggests a wild, remote and intimidating environment.   

The  Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area (TWWHA) Management Plan, which guides management of the World Heritage Area by the Parks and Wildlife Service, defines wilderness as an area that is: 
  • • of sufficient size to enable the long-term protection of its natural systems and biological diversity;
  • • substantially undisturbed by colonial and modern technological society; and 
  • • remote at its core from points of mechanized access and other evidence of colonial and modern technological society.  
The phrase ‘colonial and modern technological society’ is used in recognition that Aboriginal custodianship and customary practices have been and continue to be a significant factor in creating what  non-Aboriginal people describe as wilderness.  The phrase ‘substantially undisturbed’ recognises that there may be relatively minor evidence of previous activities of colonial or modern technological societies. For example, the now abandoned settlement of Adamsfield appears to be sited within a wilderness location, but that was not the case at the turn of the nineteenth century when Adamsfield was a bust mining town with a population of over 1000 people.  

Wilderness quality

Enlarging this map will show wilderness quality assigned to the TWWHA
(PDF 2.2 Mb). For a detailed explanation , see State of the TWWHA

The expression ‘remote at its core’ recognizes that the boundary of some areas may be near or adjacent to mechanised access or settlements while high level wilderness can be found far away from road heads and walking trails.

Wilderness - A Scarce Resource 

Tasmania’s Wilderness World Heritage Area is one of only three large temperate wilderness areas remaining in the southern hemisphere (the others being the Fiordland region of New Zealand and the Patagonian Andes in South America). In a national context, the WHA contains the largest tracts of high quality wilderness in south eastern Australia. 

Studies by the Australian Heritage Commission reconfirm the extremely high wilderness quality of most of the TWWHA and the national and international significance of the TWWHA.

The Values of Wilderness

For the broad Australian community, perhaps the most significant value of the Tasmanian wilderness is as a place away from the rat race, a place where nature reigns, a source of inspiration and also a place for reflection. With population growth, urban expansion and widespread environmental degradation throughout the world, many people place great value in simply knowing that a large area of wilderness still exists in Australia. 

Campaigns to save wilderness areas in Australia, and in Tasmania in particular, have heightened public awareness of the values of wilderness. The wilderness quality of the WHA has, until relatively recently, safeguarded its special natural and cultural features. The characteristics of wilderness — a pristine environment remote from modern human development — have become rare in the world and are likely to become more so in the future. 

Because of its high quality of wilderness recreation experience, the TWWHA is regarded as a mecca for local, national and international bushwalkers, and Franklin River is regarded as one of the world’s great white water rafting experiences. 

The Future of Wilderness

The long-term retention of wilderness quality now requires active management. Maintenance and enhancement of wilderness quality is regarded as a key management strategy to protect and conserve the World Heritage and other natural and cultural values of the WHA in perpetuity. 

Increased visitor numbers may result in pressure for additional visitor facilities which may impact on wilderness quality. Even existing levels of recreational use of bushwalking areas are degrading wilderness quality through deterioration of existing tracks and formation of new tracks in previously trackless areas. 

Wilderness quality can be adversely affected by disturbances such as overcrowding or noise from boats or aircraft. A recent (2000) public consultation on a proposal to allow helicopter landing sites in the TWWHA gave rise to an unprecedented level of virtually unanimous opposition to the proposal, with only 12 of 651 supporting the proposal to allow helicopter landing sites in the TWWHA. Over the 1992–1999 period, ‘Fly Neighbourly Advice’ was developed by the Parks and Wildlife Service to promote the harmonious relationship between aviation activities and environmental and conservation interests. Emergency and essential management operations may have an impact on the naturalness of the wilderness area. 

Of course, acceptable standards for disturbance vary according to location. For example, visitors in Visitor Services Sites accessing the WHA from their cars are more tolerant of disturbances than walkers who have ventured into trackless areas remote from evidence of modern technological society.

All wilderness areas are, and will continue to be, affected to some extent by external influences, such as pollution and, particularly, climate change.