Image for ‘‘Conservation tourism’ key to Tasmania’s success, if only Hodgman will allow it’

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Sample maps of local areas Douglas-Apsley, Tasman Peninsula and Wielangta …

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The Wilderness Society today (Tuesday, January 9) welcomed the tourism sector’s prediction of ‘conservation tourism’ becoming a key plank in maintaining the success of tourism in Tasmania. It pointed out the obvious inconsistency in this forecast and current Hodgman Government policy to reverse the reserve status of over 356,000 ha of high conservation value forests like the takayna/Tarkine, Blue Tier and Wielangta, log rainforest reserves and trash Aboriginal heritage with 4WD tracks.

‘Credible conservation reserves and the story of a community’s campaign to realise them against entrenched vested interests and poisonous politics is indeed a potent theme to attract visitors to Tasmania, especially when it relates some of the most valuable and spectacular places in Tasmania,’ said Vica Bayley, spokesperson for the Wilderness Society.

‘So when Tourism Minister Will Hodgman proposes to reduce the Tasmanian Reserve Estate by hundreds of thousands of hectares, log inside oldgrowth reserves for rainforest timbers and drive 4WDs over ancient Aboriginal heritage, most people will step back and say ‘go figure’.

‘Tasmania’s future lies in genuine conservation, a properly funded parks manager to look after the land and its visitors, and growing the suite of National Parks and other iconic conservation reserves that protect the places people want to visit.

‘Conservation tourism’ is already delivering for Tasmania, demonstrated by the cruise up the Gordon River, popularity of the Styx Valley and legendary brand of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area, all opportunities delivered thanks to long and robust conservation campaigns.

‘Conservation not only protects Tasmania’s special places, it attracts interest from all over the world and increasingly underpins who we are and the identity we want to project,’ said Mr Bayley.

Recently, the Hodgman Government committed over $3 million of taxpayer money to repair bridges on the Wielangta Road, touting the tourism potential of the road as a link between the east coast and Tasman Peninsula. Ironically, that road bisects forest reserves proposed for reversal and logging by Premier Hodgman.

‘To move Tasmania forward and capitalise on the real opportunities open to Tasmania, Premier Hodgman would be well advised to properly reserve places like Wielangta and the takayna/Tarkine, create new conservation icons and ensure the state lives up to the image we project to the world.

‘Failure to do so places politics ahead of people and will continue to hold Tasmania back. 

*Vica Bayley is Tasmanian Campaign Manager of the The Wilderness Society (Tasmania) Inc.