Aboriginal cultural burning in Tasmania

Minister for Parks

Aboriginal cultural burning in Tasmania

9 June 2022

The Tasmanian Liberal Government is providing $1.3 million in the 2022-23 Tasmanian Budget for Aboriginal cultural burning in Tasmania to support joint land management outcomes between the Parks and Wildlife Service (PWS) and Tasmanian Aboriginal people.

The funding provided will enable the PWS to employ Aboriginal Engagement Officers to ensure the success of the cultural burning program, support engagement activities between the PWS, Tasmanian Aboriginal people and organisations, and identify areas that are suitable for cultural burning.

Aboriginal cultural burning practices have been undertaken for tens of thousands of years and have helped shape the Tasmanian landscape we know today.

Importantly, this Government recognises that Aboriginal cultural burning in Tasmania is only undertaken by Tasmanian Aboriginal people.

This is because of the deep, ongoing connection that Tasmanian Aboriginal people have with their land, including sophisticated land management practices such as cool burning, and the important part this has played in Tasmania’s culture and history.

We want to draw on the deep connection Tasmanian Aboriginals have with this land and to share in their knowledge of cultural burning practices to help reduce the impact of wildfires, and also deliver ecological benefits for Tasmania’s landscapes, including fauna and flora.

These important engagement activities will be supported by the Cultural Burning Policy and procedures, which is being undertaken in consultation with PWS Aboriginal staff and Tasmanian Aboriginal people, and will support Aboriginal community controlled organisations to undertake cultural burning activities.

This important body of work is currently out for consultation with input sought from Tasmanian Aboriginal people and organisations prior to the PWS undertaking consultation with other stakeholders.

The pilot program in 2021 also included a Cultural Burning Grants Program with grants provided to undertake cultural burns, purchase equipment, travel to burn locations, and attend Firestick Alliance training.

I am very pleased to announce that the grants program will continue with the PWS currently undertaking a review of last year’s program to inform the future structure of the program.

I am also pleased to announce that the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area Fire Management Plan has been finalised. The Plan outlines the adaptive management framework that will be utilised to modify fuel characteristics and behaviour, and to protect fire-sensitive natural and cultural historical assets that form an important part of our cultural landscape.

Call to help protect vital shorebird habitat during breeding season

Minister for Parks

Call to help protect vital shorebird habitat during breeding season

29 September 2021

The Tasmanian Government is supporting calls from Tasmania Parks and Wildlife Service to urge the beach-going community to help protect shorebirds during breeding season.

Beaches across Tasmania provide year-round habitat for a range of birds. Sadly, many of these birds are declining in numbers and are now threatened species, so providing them with the space to share our beaches is critical for their survival.

It is important to be aware of these vulnerable birds in the environment and to avoid disturbing them as much as possible at this critical time of their life cycle.

Breeding shorebirds lay well camouflaged eggs on dry sand in shallow nests called scrapes. Newly hatched chicks can’t fly and for up to a month can only run until they grow flight feathers.

Beach-goers can help protect this habitat by following some simple practices, such as walking only on the wet sand away from breeding areas, being cautious about bringing dogs onto a beach, making sure to follow signage about dog walking areas and keeping dogs away from dry sand areas. Taking vehicles onto beaches should also be avoided to minimise nest disturbance.

Education blitzes in recent years have seen success in places such as the Scamander River mouth Bird Sanctuary area, which is now a safe breeding zone for Little Terns, Fairy Terns, Hooded Plovers, Pied Oystercatchers and Red-capped Plovers.

The PWS will also team up with local councils to ensure people are doing the right thing. Beach-goers are reminded to check their local council website for information on where they can exercise dogs and what limits may apply.

Feedback sought on fire management planning for the TWWHA

Minister for Parks

Feedback sought on fire management planning for the TWWHA

9 September 2021

The Tasmania Parks and Wildlife Service (PWS) is releasing the draft Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area (TWWHA) Fire Management Plan for public comment.

A comprehensive Fire Management Plan is vitally important for the TWWHA in order to protect its Outstanding Universal Values as well as critical State infrastructure.

We recognise that the TWWHA covers nearly a quarter of the Tasmanian land mass and has many areas of fire-sensitive, high value, natural and cultural assets which are irreplaceable if impacted by bushfire.

The TWWHA Fire Management Plan seeks to minimise the risk of destructive bushfires as well as providing a contemporary planned burning program to maintain fire-dependent ecosystems.

The Plan also recognises the role of past Aboriginal burning practices in shaping the cultural landscape of the TWWHA, and the contemporary role of planned fire regimes in maintaining these practices.

One of the objectives of the fire management program for the TWWHA focuses on the suppression of bushfires that pose a threat to public safety and other values located inside the TWWHA or on adjoining lands.

The draft Fire Management Plan for the TWWHA is shaped by community consultation following the release of an issues paper last year.

The 44th World Heritage Committee report, handed down in June 2021, welcomed the Tasmanian Government’s commitment to developing a comprehensive Fire Management Plan.

This consultation phase that begins today is the next key step in delivering on that commitment.

To view the draft Plan visit the PWS website at www.parks.tas.gov.au

Securing the future of our parks

Minister for Parks

Securing the future of our parks

9 September 2021

I am pleased to announce that the Tasmanian Liberal Government will draft amendments to the National Parks and Reserves Management Act 2002 to reform the Reserve Activity Assessment (RAA) system, formalising the process and providing greater transparency.
The RAA process was implemented in 2005 and is used to assess the potential environmental impacts of a proposed use or development, and to identify necessary actions to manage the impacts on land managed by the Tasmania Parks and Wildlife Service (PWS).
The RAA process is underpinned by an extensive policy-based framework, has provided for the appropriate management of activities and their impacts on reserved land since its inception, and has been validated by the Auditor General.
The PWS recently undertook a review of the RAA system, with the review recommendations being implemented and already making significant improvements to the RAA process.

While the RAA is underpinned by an extensive policy-based framework, it is not however a legislative requirement of the National Parks and Reserves Management Act.

As the Government wants to ensure greater transparency and continuous improvement across our programs and services,  the Government will commence the process of drafting amendments to the RAA which will include the following amendments:

  • Mandating elements of the RAA process for major uses and developments;
  • Establishment of an independent assessment panel to assess and review significant proposals against the relevant Management Plan;
  • Provision for third party appeals and cost recovery for RAA assessments; and
  • Publication of leases and licences over Reserved land.

The aim of these reforms will be to deliver a dedicated statutory environmental impact and planning assessment process within the framework of the National Parks and Reserves Management Act and to remove duplication in LUPAA.

These reforms will be robust and give the community full confidence in the decision making around reserved land once implemented.

In the interim, the recruitment of six new assessment officers is underway – two in each region, to enable RAA applications to be assessed within reasonable timeframes. Five of these six positions have already been filled and will ensure that use and developments are undertaken sustainably and in consideration of mitigating impacts to natural and cultural values.

The Government is dedicated to continuing this journey of improvement through increased transparency and a more robust process, and these important reforms will deliver on that commitment.

New vessel to assist Parks on Macquarie Harbour and the Gordon River

Minister for Parks

New vessel to assist Parks on Macquarie Harbour and the Gordon River

15 July 2021

I am honoured today to officially launch the new Tasmania Parks and Wildlife Service (PWS) vessel, named Yula, which is the Tasmanian Aboriginal word for shearwater, or moonbird, a well-known bird in our State.

The Yula is an eight metre catamaran with the ability to operate in adverse weather conditions within Macquarie Harbour and on the Gordon River on the West Coast. It will replace the current Tasmania Parks and Wildlife Service (PWS) vessel, Shearwater.

The Yula will allow PWS staff to perform essential maintenance at key visitor sites within the harbour and within the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area – some of which are only accessible by boat including Heritage Landing, Sir John Falls and Sarah Island.

The Yula, funded through park entry fees, will provide additional reliability and safety for PWS staff, with improved comfort for longer trips, reducing fatigue of operators and passengers.

Like the Shearwater, the new vessel is expected to support the important work of researchers, scientists and Wildcare volunteer programs, and will be available to support search and rescue operations as required.

The Tasmanian Liberal Government appreciates that our national parks and reserves support many tourism and other businesses throughout the State, particularly in our regional areas, and assets like the Yula are critical to the work that is done by our dedicated PWS staff.