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Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area

The Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area is one of

Australia’s biggest conservation reserves; it covers 1.38 million
hectares, which is about 20% of the Island of Tasmania. The region QuickTimeª and a
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provides habitats for a range of plants and animals that are found nowhere
else in the world for example the Tasmanian devil along with many rare
and endangered species. This area offers a last refuge for those
animals that have become extinct on mainland Australia. The World
Heritage Area is Australia’s stronghold of
temperate rainforest and alpine vegetation also
its Aboriginal history goes back 36000 years.
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Threats & There Management

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Illegal activities:

• The Tasmanian area is home to many

different valuable timbers including Huon pine; these are been illegally cut down
and removed from the area.

• Trout are been illegally introduced into trout free lakes.

• Unlawful lighting of fires and arson are a problem in the area, this has a big
impact on vegetation as many plants and bushes burn.

• The illegal removal of minerals, this effects the soil which in turn will effect

• Unauthorised tracks are been cut into remote areas; this is impacting vegetation
and landscapes in the area.

To try to manage these illegal activities rangers and field staff constantly monitor the area
and all reports of illegal activity are investigated. Offenders are liable to prosecution and
penalties. The impacts and penalties of illegal activities have been brought to public
awareness by community liaison programs.

• The main risks are unmanageable landscape-scale fires and peat fires, particularly
unmanageable wildfires as they are most likely
to cause large-scale ecological impacts to the
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fires been too frequent or too hot, can cause
long-term changes to the nature and extent of
vegetation, as well as causing serious risks to
public safety and adjacent land.

To manage wildfires the majority of the world heritage area has been declared a ‘fuel
stove only area’, this will help to reduce the risk of escaped campfires. As well as this fire
management plans have been prepared and put in place to mange risks if fires occur and
to prevent unmanageable wildfires.

Devil Facial Tumor Disease:

• Since the mid-1990s there has been a widespread outbreak of Devil Facial Tumor
Disease. This effects the Tasmanian devil populations in the north and east areas
of Tasmania. Tasmanian devils affected by this disease grow facial tumors and die
in around 3 to 5 months. It has been found that the disease is an infectious cancer
spread by physical contact between devils for
example fighting and biting.
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about the disease, however a major research program is
underway to find out more about DFTD and its impacts.
Research findings will guide ongoing strategies for
managing wild populations and captive devils.
Plant Diseases and Dieback:

• The root rot disease Phytophthora is common in the area and is caused by
Phytophthora cinnamomi, which is an introduced plant pathogen that causes root
rot in susceptible plant communities. The disease can be spread in many ways
including water and human activity; the main carriers are walking boots and
vehicle tyres.

To manage Phytophthora is a challenge as there is no effective method for the broad-scale

control of the disease. Management is focused on preventing the spread of the disease by
installing wash down stations on walking routes to try and stop the disease spreading into
areas that are not infected. Also hygiene procedures are required for all aircraft accessing
remote areas of the world heritage area. To try and find out more about the disease
research and monitoring programs are in place to find out more about how to manage the
disease. To increase public awareness of Phytophthora brochures and public education
programs have been put in place, these inform people on how to reduce the spread of the


• Weeds are a big problem in Tasmania mainly marram grass, sea spurge, Spanish
heath, gorse, ragwort, broom, holly and Canadian pondweed. These weeds affect
the vegetation and soils of the area.

To manage the problem of weeds weed eradication and management strategies are being
developed and put in place, especially for high risk weeds such as sea spurge and marram
grass. Monitoring and mapping are used to detect new incursions of weeds and to track
management progress.

Introduced Animals:

• Introducing new animals to the WHA can have

huge impacts on the ecosystem and other animals. QuickTimeª and a
• Already established introduced species include TIFF (Uncompressed) decompressor
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trout, starlings, goats, rabbits, wasps and bees.
• Potential new species include the European red fox,
red fin perch, carp and the Mesopotamia deer.

The most effective strategy is to prevent non-native animals from being introduced into
Tasmania in the first place as once an animal has being established it is very difficult to
remove it. Quarantine plays a big role in preventing new species being introduced. There
is a lot of effort being put into getting rid of European red foxes and restore the states
fox-free status. If foxes become properly established they will be a big threat to birds and
small mammals that are already virtually absent from mainland Australia due to predation
by foxes.
Increasing tourism and visitor activities:

• Over the past decade the number of tourists to the World Heritage Area has grown
strongly and the level of tourism development in and around the area has also
increased. While tourism is important for
the states economy it is also has to be
managed in ways that are ecologically
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• Walkers have a big impact on the are needed to see this picture.
landscape and the number of walkers is
increasing. Environmental and social
impacts of walkers are track erosion,
braiding, damage to vegetation and

• The banks of the lower Gordon River are being eroded by wake waves from boats
mainly commercial cruise boats.

• New or emerging threats include increased use of all terrain vehicles, quad bikes,
boats and aircraft to access remote areas. This can result in noise pollution,
vegetation damage and also the spread of Phytophthora root rot disease.

The management of walker impacts includes stabilising many eroded footpaths, the
hardening of popular campsites & walking tracks and the introduction of and overland
track booking system to sustainably manage visitor numbers. Also a ‘plan of management
for the walk’ has been prepared to guide the ongoing sensitive management of walks. A
variety of measures have been introduced to manage riverbank erosion including the
closure of some areas of the river to commercial vessels and speed limits and license
conditions to reduce wake sizes. These management actions have been proven to have an
effect in halting erosion by research and monitoring.

Coastal erosion:

• Tasmania’s coastline is effected by wind and wave erosion, this has resulted in the
loss of some coastal Aboriginal heritage sites.

• Most of this erosion is due to natural processes, however it can be initiated or

made worse by human disturbance for example camping, quad biking and fires.

• Climate change predictions also suggest sea level rise which would increase the
rate of coastal erosion.

To manage coastal erosion several major conservation projects have been carried out to
stabalise erosion, mainly at Aboriginal heritage sites.