1.         Tasmanian Wilderness (Australia) (C/N 181quinquies)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  1982

Criteria  (iii)(iv)(vi)(vii)(viii)(ix)(x)

Year(s) of inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger  N/A

Previous Committee Decisions  see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/181/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0
Total amount approved: USD 0
For details, see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/181/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds

N/A

Previous monitoring missions

N/A

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

Illustrative material  see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/181/

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2006

The World Heritage Centre and IUCN received reports in December 2005, from two Australian NGOs, the Wilderness Society and the Huon Valley Environment Centre, concerning current and planned commercial forestry operations immediately adjacent to the World Heritage property. The World Heritage Centre transmitted the two reports to the State Party on 5 and 25 January 2006, respectively, asking for comments and clarifications, and the State Party response was received on 10 May 2006.

In particular, the NGO reports noted that clearfell logging operations; road construction and burning of logged areas directly threaten pristine, old-growth forests in areas outside the eastern and northern boundaries of the World Heritage property. The NGOs argued that critical areas of the Tasmanian Wilderness have not been included in the World Heritage property due to pressure from resource-extractive industries. Further that, the loss of these areas due to commercial forestry activities will impact on the wilderness value and integrity of the property itself. These reports highlight the fact that forestry activities compromise options for future extension of the World Heritage property. NGO reports called for comprehensive and independent assessment of the threats and their direct and indirect impacts on the World Heritage property.

IUCN and the World Heritage Centre note that commercial forestry activities in areas adjacent to the boundary of the World Heritage property have been the focus of on-going debate between the State Party and the Australian conservation NGOs, over a number of years. This issue has been raised in numerous State of Conservation reports to the Committee, since the extension of the property in 1989. In the evaluation report of this property, IUCN noted that there is forested land outside the property which may have World Heritage values and which would contribute to the integrity of the property. In addition, a number of other reports have raised concerns over forestry operations, including the associated risks of increased fire frequency and have called for an extension of the World Heritage property.

The 1997 Regional Forest Agreement (RFA) between the Federal and State Governments was designed to balance conservation needs with sustainable forestry needs. This process identified a number of the forest areas adjacent to the World Heritage property for inclusion in protected areas, while others were identified as suitable for timber harvesting. The State Party informed the 23rd session of the Committee (1999) that boundary extensions to the existing World Heritage Property would not be actively considered. The Australian Government contends that the RFA adequately addressed World Heritage issues and the ecologically sustainable management of forests in Tasmania. At the 23rd sessions of the World Heritage Committee in 1999, IUCN commented that important steps had been made by the RFA towards a comprehensive, adequate and representative reserve system, but also urged the State Party not to foreclose any options related to future extension of the World Heritage property. In particular, IUCN recommended that areas of the dedicated RFA reserve system, which have been identified as having World Heritage value, should be managed in a manner consistent with potential World Heritage status and should ideally be added to the World Heritage property as originally recommended by IUCN.

The State Party response of 10 May 2006 notes that the eastern boundary of the property adjoins State Forest or Crown Land, and that state forests are managed for multiple use including wood production, conservation and recreation. The State Party noted that in 2005 a Supplementary Tasmanian Regional Forest Agreement between Australian and Tasmanian Governments added 6,460 ha, including old growth tall wet eucalypt forest, to reserves along the eastern boundary of the property, notably in the Styx Valley, and as these areas will not be logged they provide greater buffer to the World Heritage property. The State Party also noted the Supplementary RFA will have a number of implications for Tasmanian production forests, including: an increase in protection of old growth forests, a new programme of incentives to protect forest on private land, an end date for clearing of native forest, and improved protection of rare, vulnerable and endangered vegetation communities.

The State Party’s response does not respond specifically to the concerns of the NGOs in relation to logging in a number of specific areas near the boundary of the property, nor does it provide maps to illustrate improvements to the buffer zone of the property. 

Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies

N/A

Decision Adopted: 30 COM 7B.32

The World Heritage Committee,

1. Having examined Document WHC-06/30.COM/7B,

2. Commends the State Party for the implementation of a Supplementary Tasmanian Regional Forest Agreement, and recent efforts to increase the protection of old growth forests adjacent to the World Heritage property, thus increasing the buffer zone in certain areas;

3. Notes the concerns expressed by NGOs in relation to the impacts of logging adjacent to the World Heritage property and the potential for this activity to compromise options for future extensions to the World Heritage property;

4. Requests the State Party to submit a revised map of the World Heritage property, showing the areas of extended buffer zone and identifying other use zones directly adjacent to the boundary;

5. Notes that the World Heritage Centre has written to the State Party seeking comments on outstanding NGO concerns and that the State Party has indicated its willingness to provide a full response;

6. Requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre by 1 February 2007 a report on progress on the issues identified.