The Tasmanian Conservation Trust today expressed its disappointment that the state government has cherry-picked a small number of off-road vehicle tracks to close in the Arthur-Pieman Conservation Area - most of which the off-road vehicle users agree with closing - and has left most natural and heritage sites open to continued damage.
“The Minister has made a contradictory decision by closing a small number of tracks while keeping open many other tracks which have the same or greater values” said TCT Director Peter McGlone.
“The Minister’s compromised and contradictory decision will mean that hundreds of vehicles, with permits from the Parks and Wildlife Service, will continue to drive through middens and other Aboriginal sites as they head to Sandy Cape or to access Arthur’s Beach and many other areas”.
“This is government licenced destruction of Aboriginal heritage.”
“The state government has wrongly and arrogantly decided, without the approval of the Aboriginal community, that many of their heritage sites can continue to be destroyed by off-road vehicles.”
“Permitted vehicles will also continue to disturb birds such as the hooded plover and the threatened little and fairy terns as they attempt to nest on Arthurs Beach, Kenneth Bay and south of Sandy Cape”, Mr McGlone concluded.
The TCT calls on the Minister Brian Wightman to put in place a moratorium to prevent all vehicle use of disputed tracks - those tracks which cross Aboriginal sites or utlise beaches which have important bird habitat - until a decision can be made which is to the satisfaction of both the conservation groups and the Tasmanian Aboriginal community.
• INITIAL RESPONSE: ARTHUR-PIEMAN TRACKS REPORT A WELCOME FIRST STEP
But Track Closures Need Enforcement
Paul O’Halloran MP
Greens Member for Braddon
The Tasmanian Greens today cautiously welcomed moves to restrict four-wheel drive access to parts of the Arthur Pieman Conservation Area, but warned that the destruction of the area would continue without funding for enforcement.
Greens Member for Braddon Paul O’Halloran MP said that while it is disappointing that some previously closed tracks had been re-opened, the decision to close the area south Johnson Head was based on sound environmental and Aboriginal heritage advice.
Mr O’Halloran said that given the sensitivity of this region and its significance to many stakeholders, the Greens would consult and assess the report in greater detail over the coming weeks.
“The Greens welcome the closure of access in the nature conservation zone south of Johnson Head, but it is equally disappointing that the Minister has decided to open the track to Ordinance Point beach.”
“The Ordinance Point track should be closed permanently, because it crosses through a vital shorebird nesting beach and a very large midden that is regularly vandalised.”
“This long-overdue report is a welcome first step, but unless these closures are enforced, irresponsible users will continue forge through ancient Aboriginal middens, destroy nesting sites and degrade the values of this unique area.”
“The Greens are calling on the Minister to outline the number of enforcement officers, education rangers and the amount of money that will be used for track rehabilitation,” Mr O’Halloran said.
Mr O’Halloran acknowledged the hard work of stakeholders involved in the decade-long consultation process, and called for continued co-operation to ensure the integrity of the closures.