State party report on the state of conservation



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STATE PARTY REPORT

ON THE STATE OF CONSERVATION

OF THE

TASMANIAN WILDERNESS WORLD HERITAGE AREA

(AUSTRALIA)


PROPERTY ID 181bis

IN RESPONSE TO

WORLD HERITAGE COMMITTEE DECISIONS WHC 34 COM 7B.38 and WHC 34 COM 8B.46

FOR SUBMISSION BY 1 FEBRUARY 2012

Contents


STATE PARTY REPORT 1

ON THE STATE OF CONSERVATION 1

OF THE 1

TASMANIAN WILDERNESS WORLD HERITAGE AREA 1

(AUSTRALIA) 1

PROPERTY ID 181bis 1

IN RESPONSE TO 1

WORLD HERITAGE COMMITTEE DECISIONS WHC 34 COM 7B.38 and WHC 34 COM 8B.46 1

FOR SUBMISSION BY 1 FEBRUARY 2012 1

WORLD HERITAGE COMMITTEE DECISIONS 4

Thirty-fourth Session – Brasilia, Brazil – July 2010 Tasmanian Wilderness (Australia) (C/N 181) – 4

Decision: 34 COM 7B.38 4

Decision: 34 COM 8B.46 5



EXECUTIVE SUMMARY 6

Ensure protection and management of the Tasmanian Wilderness property within its revised boundaries 6

Mineral exploration, exploitation and rehabilitation 6

Management of forestry in adjacent areas 7

Stakeholder involvement and monitoring integrity of the World Heritage property 8

Resourcing for Aboriginal cultural heritage inside and outside the property 8



1. RESPONSE FROM THE STATE PARTY TO THE WORLD HERITAGE COMMITTEE’S DECISIONS 9

Implementing the new boundaries 10

Ensure protection and management that takes account of past decisions of the World Heritage Committee 11

Cessation of mining 14

Preparation of the Southwest Conservation Area (Melaleuca–Cox Bight section) for World Heritage status 15

Request for minor modification of the boundary 16

The proposed addition 18

Tasmanian Regional Forest Agreement renewal process 20

Forest management 21

Setting a baseline: Lidar imagery of boundary and other research 22

Parks and Wildlife Service monitoring and reporting system 23

Second State of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area report 24

Forest management 24

The Tasmanian Forests Intergovernmental Agreement 24

Review of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area consultative arrangements 25

2. OTHER CURRENT CONSERVATION ISSUES IDENTIFIED BY THE STATE PARTY 28

Amphibian chytrid fungus 32

Devil facial tumour disease (DFTD) 33

Phytophthora cinnamomi 34

Myrtle rust 34

Devil facial tumour disease front distribution 2011 35

35

3. POTENTIAL MAJOR RESTORATIONS, ALTERATIONS AND/OR NEW CONSTRUCTION(S) WITHIN THE PROTECTED AREA 37

4. APPENDICES 39

WORLD HERITAGE COMMITTEE DECISIONS

Thirty-fourth Session – Brasilia, Brazil – July 2010 Tasmanian Wilderness (Australia) (C/N 181) –

Decision: 34 COM 7B.38

The World Heritage Committee;

1. Having examined Document WHC-10/34.COM/7B,

2. Recalling Decision 32 COM 7B.41, adopted at its 32nd session (Quebec City, 2008),

3. Recognizes the efforts made by the State Party to address the actions requested in Decision 32 COM 7B.41;

4. Welcomes the submission of a draft Statement of Outstanding Universal Value for the property;

5. Thanks the State Party for proposing a minor modification to include 21 formal reserves within the property that are already covered by the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area Management Plan, also welcomes its commitment to add the Melaleuca–Cox Bight area to the property once mining licences have expired, and also recalls its request regarding the potential for further additional areas to be considered at the discretion of the State Party for eventual addition to the property;

6. Notes the potential for impact on the integrity of the existing World Heritage property from adjoining forestry operations, and requests the State Party to maintain rigorous assessment and management systems to ensure that no such impacts arise;

7. Also requests the State Party to finalize as soon as possible the creation of a mechanism involving all relevant stakeholders, to monitor, assess and manage the impact of forestry operations, road construction and regeneration on the integrity of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area, and adjoining reserves, as previously requested by the Committee;

8. Further requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2012, an updated report on the state of conservation of the property, especially on the outcomes of the monitoring arrangements focusing specifically on the impact of the logging operations and road construction on the Outstanding Universal Value of the existing property, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 36th session in 2012.

Decision: 34 COM 8B.46

The World Heritage Committee,

1. Having examined Documents WHC-10/34.COM/8B, WHC-10/34.COM/INF.8B1.Add and WHC-10/34.COM/INF.8B2,

2. Approves the minor modification of the boundaries of the property Tasmanian Wilderness, Australia, in line with the proposals of the State Party, and as previously requested by the World Heritage Committee;

3. Welcomes the intention of the State Party to add the Southwest Conservation Area south of Melaleuca to Cox Bight to the property when mining licences have expired;

4. Requests the State Party to ensure that the protection and management of the property within its modified boundaries takes account of past decisions of the World Heritage Committee regarding the state of conservation of the existing property, including the management of threats in the areas adjoining its boundaries;

5. Recommends that the State Party consider further minor modifications to the boundaries to allow for inclusion of appropriate cultural sites, related to and complementing those within the property, with appropriate protection being put in place, and considering the past decisions of the World Heritage Committee on the boundaries of the property in relation the natural and cultural values;

6. Also recommends that the State Party augment its staff with cultural heritage specialists in order to ensure the adequate protection and management of cultural sites both within the property and immediately outside the boundaries.

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

This Progress Report on the State of Conservation of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area (the World Heritage property):

responds to World Heritage Committee Decisions 34 COM 7B.38 and 34.COM -8B made in Brasilia (2010);

provides an update to the 2007, 2008 and 2010 State of Conservation reports prepared in response to previous World Heritage Committee Decisions 30 COM 7B.32, 31 COM 7B.43 and 32 COM 7B.41 (the full text of these decisions is in Appendix 4.1).

Ensure protection and management of the Tasmanian Wilderness property within its revised boundaries

The Australian and Tasmanian Governments are committed to protecting the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area within its modified boundaries.

The adjacent 21 areas of national park and state reserve are now incorporated in the World Heritage Area (see map at Appendix 4.2) and are covered by the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area Management Plan.

National environmental law protects the values of the World Heritage property from threats originating both inside and outside its revised boundaries.

The Australian Government continues to provide significant financial support for the management of the World Heritage property. The Tasmanian Government is committed to at least matching this level of baseline funding.

Mineral exploration, exploitation and rehabilitation

Australia agrees that mining is not appropriate in the World Heritage property. The Australian and Tasmanian Governments have worked closely together to ensure an end to mineral exploration licensing in the Adamsfield Conservation Area within the World Heritage property.

Australia has committed $A500,000 from the Caring for our Country (2010–2012) initiative to assist the Tasmanian Government to implement the World Heritage Committee decisions related to the cessation of mining.

Australia is pleased to report that mining issues have been resolved. The remaining leases have now been relinquished voluntarily and lessees appropriately compensated by the Tasmanian Government.

In response to the committee’s Decision 34 COM 8B.46, paragraph 3, Australia is pleased to request minor modification of the boundaries of the Tasmanian Wilderness property to add the Southwest Conservation Area (Melaleuca–Cox Bight), an area of 3,810 hectares, to the World Heritage Area. This will complete the proposal for extension put forward in 2010. A map of the World Heritage property showing the proposed addition is provided at Appendix 4.2

Management of forestry in adjacent areas

The Australian and Tasmanian Governments have entered into a new process to further protect Tasmania’s public native forests while also ensuring a sustainable forestry industry.

The Prime Minister, the Hon Julia Gillard MP, and the Tasmanian Premier, the Hon Lara Giddings MP, signed the Tasmanian Forests Intergovernmental Agreement on 7 August 2011. This delivers on the governments’ commitment to provide certainty for Tasmania’s forestry industry, for local jobs and communities, and further protection for the state’s ancient forests.

Under the terms of the agreement, significant iconic areas adjacent to the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area will be given interim protection from logging activities, including the Upper Florentine, and areas within the Styx, Huon, Picton and Counsel River Valleys, while an independent verification process to assess the values of these areas and available timber reserves is undertaken. Following conclusion of this verification process, the Tasmanian Government will provide legislative protection for those areas identified as being of high conservation value and compatible with wood supply guarantees to the forestry industry. This protection will be provided by the Tasmanian Government through appropriate forms of land tenure, and may include possible nomination of appropriate areas for inclusion in the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area.

The Australian Government remains committed to the Tasmanian Regional Forest Agreement as an appropriate intergovernmental mechanism for conservation and sustainable management of Tasmania’s public native forests. The Australian Government is also committed to working with the Tasmanian Government to improve the review, audit and monitoring arrangements for Regional Forest Agreements, including their timely completion, and to provide a clearer assessment of performance against environmental and forestry outcomes.

In the public native forests within the Regional Forest Agreement area that continue to be harvested and regenerated, Forestry Tasmania has a rigorous forest management system in place to ensure that there are no adverse impacts from forestry operations on outstanding universal value. Potential impacts on the ecological integrity and aesthetic values of the Tasmanian Wilderness property, as well as possible cultural sites and biodiversity values in adjacent areas, are taken into account through the application of the Tasmanian Forest Practices Code.
Stakeholder involvement and monitoring integrity of the World Heritage property

Issues related to the integrity of the World Heritage Area are currently reported through the State of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area report. Integrity is also an element of the broader Parks and Wildlife Service Monitoring and Reporting System for Tasmania’s national parks and reserves.

A second State of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area report is planned which can take into account integrity issues both inside and outside the boundary. This will be done in consultation with all relevant agencies and is intended to feed into the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Management Plan review, which will be undertaken from March 2015. This timing will allow for finalisation of the implementation of the Tasmanian Forests Intergovernmental Agreement. This mechanism will involve all stakeholders (including the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Consultative Committee).

Regional Forest Agreements are the primary intergovernmental mechanism for ensuring sustainable management of Australia’s public forests and they cover economic, social and environmental values. As discussed above, the Tasmanian Regional Forests Agreement has a clause requiring five-yearly reviews that include public consultation.

The Tasmanian Forests Intergovernmental Agreement responds to the community driven Statement of Principles process through which industry, community and union groups came together to seek a solution to end decades of conflict over native forestry in Tasmania. The Australian and Tasmanian Governments have agreed to help the forest industry to adapt to market changes, and protect the communities and families that rely on the sector to survive, while also protecting high conservation value forests – including in areas adjacent to the World Heritage property.

The Australian and Tasmanian Governments have commenced implementation of the Tasmanian Forests Intergovernmental Agreement, including providing assistance to displaced workers, establishing an independent verification process to assess timber supply requirements and the boundaries of proposed new conservation reserves, and retiring native forests contracts.  As part of this process, an Independent Verification Group will consult with peak bodies, other representative organisations and the signatories to the Statement of Principles.

Resourcing for Aboriginal cultural heritage inside and outside the property

Australia continues to provide resources for Aboriginal cultural heritage within and around the property despite an overall climate of fiscal restraint.

The level of baseline funding directed to management of Aboriginal cultural values has been maintained and additional special project funds have been provided, for the completion of the Melaleuca Aboriginal Walk which interprets and celebrates the culture of the Needwonnee people and other people who have lived in the area, and for monitoring World Heritage cave art within the property.
1. RESPONSE FROM THE STATE PARTY TO THE WORLD HERITAGE COMMITTEE’S DECISIONS

This document includes the progress report requested in paragraph 8 of the World Heritage Committee’s Decision 34 COM 7B.38.

The progress report responds to the World Heritage Committee Decisions 34 COM 7B.38 and 34 COM 8B.46. It provides an update on State of Conservation reports prepared in 2007, 2008 and 2010.

The updated report is provided for examination by the committee at its 36th session in 2012.



1.1. Decision 34 COM 8B.46 paragraph 4 Implement new boundaries and ensure protection and management takes into account past decisions of the World Heritage Committee

Decision 34 COM 8B.46: paragraph 4: Requests the State Party to ensure that the protection and management of the property within its modified boundaries takes account of past decisions of the World Heritage Committee regarding the state conservation of existing property, including the management of threats in the areas adjoining its boundaries.

Noting that the World Heritage Committee’s decision number 34 Com 8B.46 paragraph 2: “Approves the minor modification of the boundaries of the property Tasmanian Wilderness, Australia, in line with the proposals of the State Party, and as previously requested by the World Heritage Committee”;


State Party’s response

The Australian and Tasmanian Governments are committed to protecting the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area within its modified boundaries.

The adjacent 21 areas of national park and state reserve are now incorporated in the World Heritage Area (see map at Appendix 4.2) and are covered by the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area Management Plan.

National environmental law protects the values of the World Heritage property from threats originating both inside and outside its modified boundaries.

The Australian Government continues to provide significant financial support for the management of the World Heritage property. The Tasmanian Government is committed to at least matching this level of baseline funding.



Implementing the new boundaries

The minor modification of the boundaries of the property put forward in the last State of Conservation report, previously requested by the World Heritage Committee and now approved in World Heritage Committee Decision 34 COM 8B.46 paragraph 2, has been implemented. The adjacent 21 areas of national park and state reserve are now incorporated in the World Heritage Area (see map at Appendix 4.2)

As part of the current limited review and update of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area Management Plan 1999 (http://www.parks.tas.gov.au/index.aspx?base=702), the management plan maps and text have been updated to show the 21 areas as being included within the World Heritage property. It is planned to complete the limited review and update in the near future and to publish the updated plan in the 2011/12 financial year. The next full review of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area Management Plan is scheduled to commence in 2015. In terms of management objectives and prescriptions for the 21 areas, these did not require change as the areas were already covered under the 1999 management plan.

National environmental law protects the values of the World Heritage property from threats originating both inside and outside its modified boundaries.

The addition of the 21 adjacent formal reserves increases the representation of tall eucalypt forests and cultural sites of significance to the Aboriginal community within the property. At the request of the World Heritage Committee, Australia prepared a revised Statement of Outstanding Universal Value for the property to include relevant recent natural and cultural knowledge regarding the site. This revised Statement was included, for the committee’s consideration, in the State Party State of Conservation report of 1 February 2010. The values of the 21 formal reserves have been reflected in this document. A map of the revised boundary, showing the new additions is shown at Appendix 4.2.

Ensure protection and management that takes account of past decisions of the World Heritage Committee

The Australian Government continues to work with the Tasmanian Government to ensure protection of the values of the World Heritage property; including working towards implementation of the World Heritage Committee’s requests. Australia has reviewed all past committee decisions. Where there is a direct link to the most recent decisions these past decisions are referenced throughout this report in footnotes and have been considered when preparing the response.

The State Party’s strategy for management of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area may be found in the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area Management Plan 1999 (http://www.parks.tas.gov.au/index.aspx?base=6158). This management plan documents the management arrangements that are in place for the state managed World Heritage Area; and has been agreed between the Australian and Tasmanian Governments.

A full review of the management plan will be conducted in 2015. This will be a thorough review involving extensive community consultation. The review process will consider the adjoining area; including consideration of the issues raised in past decisions of the World Heritage Committee such as the management of threats in the areas adjoining the property’s boundaries (e.g. logging roads and logging activities, possible damage to cultural sites or sensitive vegetation, threats to rare and endangered species, potential for fires to escape into the property etc).

Note also that a significant new process (the Tasmanian Forests Intergovernmental Agreement) has implications for management of forestry in state forest adjacent to the property (refer to sections 1.3 and 1.4 for more detail).

The Australian Government continues to provide significant financial support for the management of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area. Baseline funding of $A3.4 million per annum continues to be provided from the Caring for our Country initiative for management of the World Heritage property. The Tasmanian Government is committed to at least matching this level of funding. 

Additionally, the Australian Government has committed to a multi-year Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area biosecurity program and coastal weed program. These programs will deliver $A681,615 of Australian Government funding over a three-year period with additional support from the Tasmanian Government.

The two year biosecurity program involves the Tasmanian Parks and Wildlife Service and all surrounding land managers (including Forestry Tasmania and Hydro Tasmania) in improving and monitoring the biosecurity of the World Heritage property.

The program aims to minimise the spread of diseases and pests into the property including Chytrid (a disease that kills frogs) and plant dieback (Phytophthora cinnamomi) amongst others. The program takes an integrated approach that involves: establishing personal and vehicle washdown stations; training staff in biosecurity procedures; and an active public education campaign. It also incorporates extensive monitoring. Australian Government funds allocated for 2010–11 are $A309,982.

The coastal weed program is a three year program aimed at eradicating ecosystem transforming weeds from Tasmania’s Wilderness Coastline. This project has total Australian Government funding of $A80,000 with $A14,000 allocated in 2010/11. Similar levels of funding are being provided by the Tasmanian Government. The project is managed by Wildcare Incorporated and delivered through a volunteer group – Sea Spurge Remote Area Teams (SPRATS).

Additionally, approximately $A40,000 from the Cradle Coast Authority Regional Base level funding in 2011–2012 to 2012–2013 is allocated for the eradication of sea spurge, marram grass and other weeds of national significance in the West Coast Council area in the vicinity of the World Heritage property.

These programs aim to eradicate sea spurge and marram grass from the entire wilderness coastline. These weeds have the potential to transform all sandy and boulder coastal systems in the World Heritage property. Millions of weed plants have been destroyed by volunteers in very remote locations under these very successful programs.

In 2011–12 additional funding of $A500,000 has been provided from the Caring for our Country initiative: to support implementation of the World Heritage Committee’s requests on mining; and to undertake other activities to prepare the Southwest Conservation Area (Melaleuca to Cox Bight) for addition to the World Heritage property (refer to section 1.2 for more detail).

Refer to section 1.6 for details of funding provided for cultural resource management and to section 3.2 for progress on the special works that were reported in the 2010 State of Conservation report that were funded under the Australian Government Jobs Fund Stimulus package (totalling $A1,692,500).

The risks of climate change to the values of the Tasmanian Wilderness property continue to be identified and assessed. This information is incorporated into an active monitoring program and risk management strategy for the property.

As part of this focus on climate change, a report on potential climate change impacts on geodiversity in the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area, has now been completed (Sharples, 2011). Potential climate change impacts on geodiversity in the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area: A management response position paper. RMC, DPIPWE, Hobart. Nature Conservation Report Series 11/02).



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