Tas plan looks at aircraft, cultural 'gap'

Tasmania's wilderness is one of just two areas in the world to meet seven World Heritage criteria.
Tasmania's wilderness is one of just two areas in the world to meet seven World Heritage criteria.

Tasmania will review the use of aircraft in the state's vast wilderness World Heritage area and seek to more effectively involve Aboriginal people in the region's future.

The state government has released its long-awaited tourism master plan for the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area (TWWHA).

The area covers about a quarter of the Apple Isle and is considered by the World Heritage Convention as having both natural and cultural heritage of outstanding universal value.

It is one of only two places in the world, alongside China's Mount Taishan, that meets seven out of ten criteria for World Heritage listing.

The plan states aircraft traffic is a "significant issue" for parks globally and if left unmanaged can pose risks to a site's values and visitor experience.

It warns the prevalence of aircraft could undermine the TWWHA's brand and its outstanding universal value.

A proposed helicopter-accessed standing camp at Lake Malbena, which is currently before federal approval authorities, has drawn criticism in recent years.

Tasmania's Parks Minister Jacquie Petrusma said an air access policy will be developed to outline appropriate flight frequency, paths, routes and no-fly areas.

However, she provided no timeline for the policy.

The plan also noted the Tasmanian Aboriginal story is a "recognised gap" in the TWWHA visitor experience.

"There is a significant lack of opportunities for visitors to engage and learn about the Aboriginal cultural values of the TWWHA," it reads.

Creating "cultural presentation hubs" is one way to highlight Aboriginal storytelling, the report says.

It recommends setting up a cultural heritage decision protocol to ensure Indigenous people are involved in decision-making.

"We very much want Tasmanian Aboriginal people to be involved in the decision-making in regards to the TWWHA," Ms Petrusma said.

"We want to make sure they can take advantage of any tourism or business opportunities, welcome to country ceremonies and dual naming."

Tom Allen from the Wilderness Society Tasmania says the plan is "lipstick on the parks privatisation pig" and doesn't ensure wilderness values are properly protected.

"If the state government is serious about the island being a global ecotourism destination, it needs to stop privatising national parks," he said.

"(The government needs to) start listening to the vast majority of people who oppose it; stop subordinating conservation to tourism and start prioritising conservation values."

The master plan was requested in 2015 by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation.

Australian Associated Press