Tarkine Widerness

12 posts / 0 new
Last post
Lachlan's picture
Tarkine Widerness

I was reading an article in the Sydney Morning Herald about the how the Tarkine has failed to get  proper World Heritage protection and how the federal government has given permission for several mines to go ahead in the area. I was wondering if anyone from Tasmania could give me some perspective on the issue. The rabid environmentalist in me screams that it is a bad idea, digging up such otherwise pristine wilderness (especially some of the last Devil Facial Tumour Disease free habitat in Tasmania), but I have read suggestions that the significant sections of the wilderness are already protected, and that Tasmania's economy badly needs the stimulus the projects would provide. 

Bottom line, I don't know what to think, and hopefully someone can explain to me what's going on, and the reasons for it. 

Thanks, Lachlan. 

Woko's picture

I'm not from Tasmania, Lachlan, but I'm always deeply suspicious when the authorities claim that it's OK to wreck an area because the best quality bits are conserved. It's as though there's no alternative to digging a mine in the bits of lesser quality. Have they never heard of rehabilitation or ecological restoration?

The argument that it's OK to wreck the environment because we need the jobs just doesn't hold water. Our economy is heavily dependent on a healthy environment & to create an unhealthy environment for economic gain is simply an oxymoron. In the long run our economy is stuffed if we wreck what remains of our natural environment.

Besides, I would have thought that the discoveries being made of products that can be developed from plants & animals in Earth's wilderness areas would mean that environmental destruction is very much against the interests of the economy, particularly when economies everywhere are in transition & looking for ways of becoming sustainable.

I also note the substitutes for wilderness that abound in our consumer-addicted society. E.g, beer bottles with labels depicting clear mountain streams & extinct thylacines; a local real estate agent whose logo has rainbow lorikeets in flight. This suggests to me that marketeers are onto a good thing here. Perhaps they would benefit economically from promoting the real thing.

dwatsonbb's picture

Lachlan, I have just spent about an hour working on a reply to your post, and then preceded to lose it, so here goes again. I will offer some general comments on the state of Tasmania. Some relate directly to the Tarkine, and others offer general comment on our local society, so sorry if I get to bogged down, but feel it is important to the conversation to give a balanced response.

Firstly, I have no political affiliation with any political party or environmental groups.

We are unique, being an island state. Our relatively low population means that more funding per capita is required to maintain even the most basic of services. Our unemployment levels are among the highest in the country, and our average population age in increasing. Large numbers of young Tasmanians have to leave our state to find work, while many older Australians are choosing to move here for our more relaxed lifestyle in retirement. This put pressure on all infrastructure, particularly health resources.

I refer to "Greenies" with no insult intended to anyone. We have the Tasmanian Greens (a political party which currently holds balance of power in the state parliament) and the more radical Green Protestors (appear to ignore policy and recommendations of the political party), who appear to want to hold the state to ransom, attempting to block many industries, including those who are using sustainable regrowth timber. Without industry, my state -Tasmania, becomes more of a financial burden on our great nation. It appears they (the radical Greenies) want to lock everything up, and not allow any progress, or even continuation of sustainable industry (Forestry involving regrowth and plantation timber). Some say they even want to keep tourists away (which is our largest industry at present). The Tasmanian Goverment ( including the Greens) have negotiated a Forestry Aggreement, to secure a sustainable future for the industry, but this is jeopardized by the radicals, who participate in activities such as chaining themselves to machinery. One recent incident involved protestors attaching themselves to a "veneer peeling machine", this could have been disastrous, with lives lost, had they not been found prior to commenced of the days production. While I support discussion and protest, some of these people just don't have any concept of how dangerous their actions can be.

The Tarkine has been recognized by many authorities as an area of natural significance, including the Australian Federal Government, and I post a link for your information.

The Tarkine as mentioned is regarded as a "pristine wilderness area", and in my opinion should not be mined under any circumstances. It is a misconception that many Tasmanian Pristine Wilderness Areas are untouched, as many have been logged since white man first came to these shores, and are considered by the Forestry Industry as "old regrowth forest". I have no specific information about the Tarkine in relation to previous activities.

The main reason it has not been listed for "World Heritage Classification" rest with the Australian Federal Government (nomination must be made by the "National Goverment") who have failed to put a nomination forward, despite being recommended by many Australian and foreign organizations. Perhaps the Goverment is more concerned about the financial gains, than the environmental significance.

The government and the mining companies have the almighty dollar in mind, when proceeding with such projects. As part of any such project, it is a condition that the environment "be left in as close as practical to it's original state", that is the companies are responsible for rehabilltaion of the area, once operations are completed. I ask, how can trees which are hundreds of years old be replaced in the future?

The other concern is that if it is listed as a World Heritage Area, is the affect tourism will have on the "Pristine Environment", as history shows many scars from so called eco friendly developments and one of our favourite pastimes, bush walking activities over the years. Many of our unique Button Grass Plains are scarred, and may never recover. A lot of this Damage has been done by presumably "environmentally friendy" bush walkers, who choose to walk around "boggy" areas, thereby creating new tracks, which in turn become boggy, and so the process goes on. In recent years Parks and Wildlife have been working to install duckboards on popular tracks, to aid recovery. The most recent was funded by Dick Smith, who spent 1 million dollars on one track alone. My point is, once we get to this stage, is the area still considered "pristine"?

I know I have not replied in relation to the Tasmanian Devil Habitat, but I thought my previous comments would support my views that this is all part of protecting our environment, while maintaining an economically sound platform, for Tasmania's future.

Tasmania has a long history of protests involving environmental issues, the most famous would be the successful stopping of the damming of the "Gordon below Franklin" hydro scheme around the,eighties. I think the Federal Goverment will have a big fight on it's hands before any mining activity starts.

In summary, the Australian Goverment has given interim approval for mining activity in the Tarkine region, probably based on financial gains, while choosing to ignore the environmental significance of the area, and therefore has FAILED TO RECOMMEND THE TARKINE FOR A WORLD HERITAGE LISTING!

Tasmania needs economic development, but this project is not the way to go in my opinion.

So in closing I thank anyone who has read down this far, and apologise my my rambling about a state which I care so much about!

Dale Huonville, Tasmania

Lachlan's picture

Thank you for the considered response, I hadn't realised that Tasmania had that many economic problems. I'm curious about it all, because most of the states outside of NSW (and occasionally Vic and Qld when there is a disaster) get very little attention in the local press, apart from the obligatory 1-200 word column that doesn't really tell you anything about an issue. So, having read a few of those, and a few unhelpful sites on the net (thanks for the link, it was interesting, but confused me a bit), I thought it would be better to  ask someone closer to what's going on. 

Likewise, avoiding any political aspersions, my cynical thought based upon what I read in the newspaper would be that the people of the electorate (Braddon?) want the mines for any economic benefit. Apparently, Labor is worried about loosing it, and is thus willing to accept whatever the locals want. Hence, the limited listing. It seems that the state of our environment gets sadly little time in political arguments; all the major parties can agree on is that they both want to cut 'Green Tape'. My feeling about ecotourism is that while it has its problems, it is generally more sustainable that an open cut mine. Although, it can be quite problematic when people ignore rules- in the Grose Valley up in the Blue Mountains, people aren't allowed to have fires due to both risk and the problem of all the fuel being used up (so, no habitat for animals, as it is a high traffic area). Yet if you walk through the area there are massive fire scars from what must have been a humungous fire- right in front of the 'Fuel Stoves Only' signs. 

The question you bring up is certainly valid- how long does it have to have been left alone before we consider it to be natural (as terms like old growth just seem to be an indicator of how 'natural' a place seems)? I don't have a proper answer.

But some really nice parks in NSW have been extensively logged or grazed in the past 50 years (ie, before they were parks; NSW hasn't quite got to the logging in parks stage yet), and are still utterly spectacular places. But one thing that really gets on my nerve up here (and they probably do it in Tas too) is how a mining operator or developer will cut down a bunch of environmentally valuable bushland and then go an plant a few scungy trees somewhere else (that will probably die from neglect) and claim to be righteous from establishing 'environmental offsets' or 'environmental compensation'. 

You didn't get bogged down; I thought it was all very interesting to read. Once again, thank you for your reply.


I think you have a common propagandised notion of greenies. This pollutive idea has been seeded by the right wing media and both major political parties who are also both right wing. Greenies in general are not against sustainable farmed timber or tourism. I have yet to meet anyone who is, whether a greeny or not. Greenies come to Tassie to see the green-ness.

I am glad to see that you have a balanced view (yes I read it all) and I agree the Federal govt and all state govts have dollar signs in their eyes because they have sold off all their/OUR assets and need cash. Yes once again folks it's all about money. I hope you will be standing in line next to the 'evil greenies' in the picket lines just like or union brothers did in the past.

It is not just Tassie that is being raped of its resources, wilderness and even farmland. Anyone who used to visit the Hunter wine region of the seventies and eighties wouldn't recognise the place now. Queensland has basicly given the state to the miners including the barrier reef. The premiere of WA stated he wants the whole of the Kimberly area to be industrialised. Victoria is dead set out to log all the koalas and ledbeater possums out of existence. 

I am frightened for any future children and can envision a time where a child who comes across our photo storage devices from this time and ask their parents... Daddy what are those creatures that used to fly in the air and perch on those big green things. I wish we had some of those.  

Lachlan's picture

Sorry if I offended you Richman, I didn't mean to sound like I have anything against 'Greenies'. 

The contrary, I identify very strongly with the Greenies and wish I could do more to help the cause. However, I think Dale (Dale Watson, from Huonville, Tasmania? Or have I misinterpreted your signature and username?) was more referring to the sorts of people who would put themselves at risk (ie veneer peeling machine example) for dubious benefit. Sure, martyrs are useful, but I think it would be better if the environmental issues of Australia could have attention drawn to them without people dying. I don't think he was referring to the sorts of protests involving environmentalists and concerned citizens with the Franklin-Gordon Dams. 

I certainly agree with you about the Hunter. Every year I pass through Singleton and Muswellbrook on an annual pilgrimage to family in Queensland. Slowly the two towns are turning into islands surrounded by mines. They have had to shift the Putty Rd and Golden Highway just so that they can mine the coal underneath where it was.

Maybe they should try bridges? That way the coal companies don't have to worry about any pesky public. 

If you go out west of the Blue Mountains, there is a wonderful national park called the Gardens of Stone National Park. It is utterly picturesque, and is on the edge of the renowned Capertee. Unfortunately, as you drive along the Castlereagh Highway there are a number of open cut mines eating into the bushland. And then they stop. In a straight line, up and down. Now, usually mines have sloped sides... So why are these ones like this?

Because right next to the mine is the national park, and they can't mine that (yet). So the mine riiiiight up to the boundary and go straight down from there in order to get the maximum benefit from it all. All because the darn national park is sitting on OUR COAL!

So, eventually, someone is going to do a survey of tourists in other countries. It will go:

Q1: Did you consider going on holidays to Australia?

Q2: If yes, what other countries were being considered?

Q3: Out of these countries, why did you choose (country x) over Australia?

And the government (and probably wider public) will be genuinely confused when they get told that they decided not to come here because our environment has been screwed up, and all the natural things that they would otherwise have come for are now gone. And then the penny will drop: Oh drat, we shouldn't have mined/cleared/sold/bulldosed/fracked/farmed/grazed/enclosed/privatised/built on that. 

But by then, it will be too late, and our environment and what makes Australia unique will be gone. 

Sorry, I'm ranting again, but I do feel very strongly about this. I think I shall go look at the lovely pictures of Australia's Birds in the Best Photos section to go calm down...

dwatsonbb's picture

Lachlan, I do not allow any of my political opinions to become public (perhaps I have already given too much away) and I fear if I comment on the Observer Tree then others will portray me as something which I am not.

I suspect there has been little comment to your original post from us Taswegians, because this is a topic which will bring emotions to the fore, and we have seen many posts became emotional, ending with personal attacks on individuals. We are all entitled to our opinions, and I have just expressed a few of mine. I do not want to be seen as the "voice of Tasomania", but just pass on my opinions.

Your comment about the government being worried about votes is spot on, and financial pressures will be the deciding factor, it will probably depend on how long and how much the mining company's are prepared to spend, before cutting their losses.

Richman, I thank you for your comments also, and my comments relate to the radical protestors, as the Tasmanian Greens political party are and always have been party to the Forest Agreement negotiations, and to their credit are trying to make this work. They are being frustrated by the actions of what I have termed the "Radical Greenies", and if these issues cannot be resolved, then Tasmania's economic future looks bleak, as several companies who have sustainable operations will withdraw their business from our state.

The Tasmanian Greens do support sustainable and renewable resource, but their still is an element, which don't want any intrusion into any forest, regrowth or otherwise. It was never my intention to indicate otherwise, although re reading my comments, I can see how this could be interpreted that way. I apologise if I have mislead anyone.

I also fear that I have strayed away from Lachlan's original subject, the Tarkine, and mining approval, but feel in many ways forestry and mining can have equally devastating affects on our environment. So I feel the discussion is relevant, perhaps in predicting what will occur in the coming months or years.

Just as I am writing this, news headlines indicate another mining lease approval for the Tarkine, and "environmentalists" vowing to continue the fight. While I may not be standing shoulder to shoulder on the protest lines, I will be doing what I can to stop mining in this delicate area.

Yes the problems in Tasmania, are not restricted to Tasmania, or Australia for that matter.

My replies were not intended to be inflammatory, and I half expected to be criticized for my comments, and possibly that is why there are not many replies to Lachlan's request for information.

Lachlan, you appear to have done your homework, and probably have a better understanding than a lot of Tasmanians do.

Seems I am too slow in my response, keep looking back, and see Lachlan has again responded, and I support his ongoing comments.

Yes Lachlan, I am Dale Watson from Huonville, Tasmania, and my local community is suffering economically due to a huge down turn in the Forestry industry, and I do support sustainable industry, so as always there needs to be some compromise.

Think I will go and join Lachlan in the best phot section for a while.

Thanks for reading

Dale Huonville, Tasmania

Lachlan's picture

Sorry if I accidentally steered the discussion into noxious territory, I will remove the names I was specifically griping about. And sorry if it seemed like I was pressuring you to make anything you would rather keep private (like political views) public- that wasn't my intention. I was just looking for a better source of information about what is happening in Tasmania than the mainland media. 

I don't want the voice of Tasmania- a homogenised view is useless. I would rather have opinions, as an opinion is more likely to introduce new ideas and force me to think about something and re-evaluate my own opinions. Thank you for the insight about the Tasmanian Greens, I had not understood their relationship with the protesters. 

O-T Question gone as well. 


 Hey Lachlan I wasn't offended in the least by your comments. I am with you all the way as your post showed a most balanced viewpoint. I was simply stating the greenies and green party have been subjected to a nasty media campaign. Sorry if my post sounded like that, It is very hard to judge the temperature of a post as you cannot see the persons expressions or inflections.  

Lachlan's picture

I'm glad you think I'm showing a balanced viewpoint, I don't want to offend anyone. I was just trying to see if anyone could tell give me some information about something I didn't know much about. 

To make it clear, the next bit is calm and hopefully neutral in the hopes that the discussion can continue without upsetting anyone:

I agree with you about the whole environmental slur campaign that has been happening in Australia. Over the past 6 years, the Green Party has been characterised as 'left-wing nutters' in the press by way of their social agenda. Sadly, this has rubbed off on environmental issues, as people draw a link between the Greens and the environment (for obvious reasons). So, whereas six years ago you had people condsidering the 'greatest moral dilemma of our times' in how we're messing up the environment, now through constant dismissal and scepticism the environment has been relegated to the secondary 'Too Hard' basket. People (due the the recent economic unrest) are now concerned about their pockets than the world around them. I guess its only natural that when people feel threatened they retreat to the basics (ie, staying alive by making money) and view things like environmental conservation and protection as unaffordable luxuries. Natural, but still sad. 


Agreed. I should also add that I think that dwatsons comments were valid and fair. What is a real shame is that there is no economy without the environment and this seems to be the one thing people are blind to. If we allow corporations to continue destroying the land, we all lose. It will be impossible for the land to sustain us. If we don't change the way we think, start taking sustainability and self sufficiency seriously and stop being so wasteful and ignorant we will doom ourselves.
Or maybe I should say the greedy, wasteful and ignorant will doom us all. 

Woko's picture

In spite of its so-called intelligence, Homo sapiens is the only species I'm aware of that strives for quite swift environmental destruction. And in many cases the swifter the better. To my knowledge all other species' actions produce environmental balance or gradual change which allows other species time to adapt. Thus Homo sapiens carries within it the seeds of its own extinction. Whether Homo sapiens will ever become aware of this and act on this awareness remains to be seen. So far the signs aren't too flash but it's important to keep plugging away.  

 and   @birdsinbackyards
                 Subscribe to me on YouTube