Commitment required on World Heritage cultural assessment


MEDIA RELEASE – June 30, 2014

Following their return from the World Heritage Committee meeting in Doha and the unanimous decision to retain the current boundaries of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area, the Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre and the Wilderness Society have jointly called for more detail on the Federal Government’s commitment to honour the decision of the committee and carry out the requested cultural heritage study.

Whilst the Government has publicly confirmed it will abide by the decision of the World Heritage Committee, further details about the funding, timelines, and process for the heritage study are needed to ensure the study meets the requirements of the Committee and the expectations of the Tasmanian Aboriginal community.

“The World Heritage Committee has now twice requested the Australian Government consult with Tasmanian Aborigines and conduct a rigorous assessment of the cultural heritage values in the world Heritage Area,’ said Ruth Langford, State Secretary of the Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre.

“This study is critical to the world’s understanding of the true extent of our continuing heritage values and to ensuring management arrangements are put in place to protect our ancient heritage and cultural landscapes that have been recognised as of global significance.”

“In the interests of equity, rigour and community ownership, the study must be undertaken by Tasmanian Aboriginals. With a whole team of trained Cultural Heritage Officers, the Tasmanian Aboriginal community must lead the assessment and reporting of the cultural values assessment,’ said Ms Langford.

The Wilderness Society supported the call, saying whilst the incredible natural values of giant trees, important habitat and unique geological features have been researched and documented for decades, the ancient legacy of Aboriginal existence in the landscape is far less known.

“What knowledge there is confirms a heritage that dates back tens of thousands of years and evidence of a community that lived in this country through the last ice age,” said Vica Bayley, spokesperson for the Wilderness Society.

“Through this World Heritage listing, the global community is confirming this Aboriginal heritage is just as significant as the Pyramids in Egypt, the Taj Mahal in India and the old city of Jerusalem. It must be properly researched, reported and understood.”