Protect irreplaceable natural and cultural heritage values over buildings. That is the message from The Wilderness Society’s appearance today before the Senate Inquiry into Tasmania’s wilderness bushfires in summer 2016.

The Society says the draft management plan for the TWWHA, published in 2015, omitted a longstanding prioritisation that stated:

– First prioritisation will always be the protection of human life;

– Second priority will be the protection of rare and threatened fire sensitive species and communities and

– Third priority will be the protection of substantial and valuable infrastructure

(pg 108, 1999 Management Plan)

“Tasmania’s Wilderness World Heritage Area is recognised globally for its outstanding values, including ancient fire-sensitive vegetation like pencil pines and our iconic deciduous beech,” said Vica Bayley, spokesperson for the Wilderness Society.

“A management plan is the supreme document for guiding the way the World Heritage Area is managed and needs to include clear direction on the way fire is to be addressed.

“With the demonstrable impacts of climate change, fire is acknowledged as one of the greatest threats to World Heritage values and it would be perplexing to see a finalised Management Plan that fails to prioritise protecting fire-sensitive vegetation.

The World Heritage Committee itself has passed a decision that calls on the Australian Government to “ensure that fire research and management are fully reflected in the revision of the draft Management Plan …”

“The Tasmanian Government’s response to public submissions on the weakened draft management plan did not address the call to retain these longstanding firefighting principles and prioritise natural and cultural values over built infrastructure,” Mr Bayley said.

Environment Minister Groom is expected to finalise the plan by the end of the year.

“We’d welcome more detail in the Management Plan about fire, the threat it poses, its use as a management tool and the ways it can be utilised, mitigated and combated,” Mr Bayley said. “But a final management plan must retain a prioritisation matrix that values irreplaceable vegetation and cultural heritage above human infrastructure.”

THE FIRES … on Tasmanian Times …

TARKINE … After The Fire … Nicole Anderson’s pictorial record of the aftermath of the Tarkine fires …

STATE: Politicising the Tasmanian bushfires … The Saturday Paper’s John Martinkus … analysis: includes links to earlier articles on Tasmanian Times … including a picture essay by Dan Broun: Tassie’s devastated World Heritage …

*Lindsay Tuffin has been a journo for nearly five decades in Aus and Pomland …

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