State divided over park projects
TASMANIANS are split on whether the state should allow more development in national parks, with slightly more opposed to the idea than in favour.
A survey of Tasmanians conducted by the Mercury has shown that 48.8 per cent do not want more tourism development and operators in national parks, while 41.7 per cent are in favour of more development.
The remainder of those surveyed chose “other”, with most suggesting how some limited development should be allowed under “strict controls”.
In recent years, the Tasmanian Government has em- barked on an Expressions of Interest process to generate new “sensible and appropriate” visitor experiences in national parks.
But some of the proposals have attracted criticism, with heated controversy continuing over a proposal to build huts and a helipad in Lake Malbena within the Walls of Jerusalem National Park.
Among the comments made in the Future Tassie Survey, many suggest “strongly regulated” development or restricting it to the edges of parks. “Only if sensibly done to preserve the environment,” says one survey participant.
“Yes if strictly monitored POST development completion,” says another.
The Wilderness Society’s Vica Bayley said the community generally recognised the importance of protecting Tasmania’s natural assets.
“It’s welcome more people supported proper protection of our national parks,” he said.
“I’d also like to make the point that if people who were asked that question realised management plans were being specifically changed to allow these developments, and values like wilderness were being sacrificed, the figures would be even higher.”
Tourism Industry Council Tasmania chief executive officer Luke Martin said there were already more than 200 commercial tourism operators licensed to offer tourism activities within the state’s national parks and world heritage areas.
“Some of these operators are regarded as some of the best nature tourism operators in the world,” he said.
“We should feel confident in growing this sector in a way that respects the natural and cultural values of our environment, but also generates economic activity and value from conservation.”