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 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
Illegal activities: •

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

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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.

Wildfires: • 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 area. Also inappropriate fire regimes, for example 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.
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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.

QuickTimeª and a Managing this is very difficult as not much is known TIFF (Uncompressed) decompressor are needed to see this picture. 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 disease. Weeds: • 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. Already established introduced species include trout, starlings, goats, rabbits, wasps and bees. Potential new species include the European red fox, red fin perch, carp and the Mesopotamia deer.

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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 sustainable. Walkers have a big impact on the landscape and the number of walkers is increasing. Environmental and social impacts of walkers are track erosion, braiding, damage to vegetation and overcrowding.
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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.