The Aboriginal Heritage Council met for their regular monthly meeting on Friday 29 September 2023 in Hobart.
The Council considered and did not oppose two applications for a permit under the Aboriginal Heritage Act 1975.
The Deputy Secretary for the Tasmania Parks and Wildlife Service (PWS) attended the meeting to discuss key issues of mutual concern.
A key theme was Council concern that wild deer, a partly protected species under the Nature Conservation Act 2002, are causing increasing damage to protected Tasmanian landscapes and Aboriginal cultural values, including the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area (TWWHA).
Council noted that deer are currently managed according to the statewide Tasmanian Wild Fallow Deer Management Plan 2022-27
which identifies different management zones for deer, ranging from Zone 1, where deer are an accepted part of the landscape (largely midlands region on private properties) to Zone 3, which are PWS managed areas (such as TWWHA, National Parks and reserves) where PWS is empowered to eradicate deer.
PWS provided an update on a recent trial of eradication and control methods (helicopters and thermal vision) in the TWWHA 2023-24
. It was noted the number of deer in the trial area were substantially under-estimated however eradication methods exceeded expectations. The Council supported and encouraged the efforts of PWS but expressed ongoing concern that:
- Aboriginal communities have not been part of discussions around deer management. Members stated that the Government need to find a better way of communicating with and listening to Aboriginal communities.
- Aboriginal people want eradication of all deer in Tasmania, not just in the TWWHA. Deer are a destructive introduced species that are protected for the benefit of a minority of farmers and hunters.
PWS also provided an update to the Council on the status of the Golf Course development project at Arm End. Council were particularly concerned to learn that the existing lease agreement had recently been varied to give the developers an additional three years to meet a critical milestone – demonstrating significant progress with the project – that they had repeatedly failed to meet.
The Council expressed strong concern that such an important decision about a highly significant and irreplaceable Aboriginal cultural landscape was made without briefing or seeking advice from the Aboriginal Heritage Council, as the expert advisory body.
The Council remain firmly opposed to the Arm End development and insistent that the land be managed appropriately by the Parks and Wildlife Service jointly with Aboriginal people, or otherwise be returned to the Tasmanian Aboriginal community.
The next Aboriginal Heritage Council meeting will be on Wednesday 25 October 2023 in Hobart.