The Wilderness Society yesterday released an expert assessment of the effect of the Lake Malbena development on wilderness values. It shows substantial impacts from the establishment of a new point of commercial helicopter (i.e. public) access.
This is the study that the Tasmanian Parks & Wildlife Service (PWS) should have conducted to comply with the requirements of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area Management Plan 2016.
This is what PWS actually stated in the formal assessment of the proposal (the Reserve Activity Assessment, or RAA) –
Likely Impact: Low level impact. Wilderness qualities may be improved by eliminating seasonal tree (firewood) harvesting by unauthorised users of the existing Halls Hut.
The reference to the essentially irrelevant issue of firewood collection only serves to emphasise how the RAA has completely missed the key point – remoteness from access is a major aspect of wilderness character and the proposal’s helicopter landing site would provide a new access point into an otherwise remote area!
Yet the RAA is the official statement that the proposal is compliant with the Management Plan. It is the key document that underpins both State and Commonwealth approvals. The RAA must be rewritten to correct this glaring error (and address some other major issues that were overlooked).
This should lead to the rejection of the proposal.
Nicholas Sawyer is President, Tasmanian National Parks Association Inc