At present there is only a small amount of information in the site about the environment. However there are a wide range of environmental issues under discussion in the Huon Valley, many of which are very relevant to Bushwalkers.
Forestry is the most politically contentious issue in the area, with large areas of the Southern Forests under the management of Forestry Tasmania. Also of interest may be track management, marine parks, river and water catchment management, coastal development and the development of tourist activities and facilities in national parks.
However, bushwalkers also need to be mindful of the impact which they have on the environment, and should practice Minimum Impact Bushwalking at all times. Walking track management by the National Parks and Wildlife Service is of interest and affects the accessibility and use of many of the walks described in this site.
I'll also expand the site later with some natural history type information, especially on some of the more interesting plants you can see here.
The forests of the Huon Valley and surrounding areas have been harvested for a very long time. However, some of this activity has been contentious for the last 20 years, with the Farmhouse Creek protests in the 80s being memorable for the arrest of Bob Brown among others. Protests continue regularly however, as loggers push further up many of the rivers in search of more trees.
My own position is that we do need to use the forests for wood, but that the forests of the upper Huon, Picton and Weld valleys, and many nearby areas should be left alone. These areas, such as the area to Blake's Opening on the Huon River, and up the Picton to Farmhouse Creek should obviously be included to preserve the geographical integrity of the World Heritage Area and National Parks. They appear to be excluded from the national park(s) to allow logging, not on environmental grounds. If you haven't been before, come and see for yourself.
If you want to see the impact of the "regeneration" burns on the whole area, come around April on a still cool autumn day. The mushroom clouds are a sight to behold!
Interesting viewpoints for seeing the impact of forestry include:
The area to the east of Hartz Peak is heavily logged, and this is very noticeable while driving there and from almost all vantage points. It certainly mars the views back towards the Huon River and Bruny Island. However these areas are no longer wilderness, and it probably has to be accepted that logging will continue.
West of Hartz Peak, logging in the Picton Valley is very obvious. There are coups quite high on the facing valley wall, although there is not a lot of logging occurring in the area visible from there. This area should be included in the World Heritage Area. The Picton River is a high-quality rafting river, in near pristine condition, and should be preserved as it is. It is far more valuable with its trees than without. The effect on the views is enough reason to stop logging here.
From Snowy South, the logging in the Weld valley is very obvious. Coups quite high on the ridge can be seen. This valley is specifically excluded from the WHA, and is the subject of ongoing protest. Logging this area is disgusting, wasteful and stupid and should stop immediately.
Mt Picton (walk not yet included due to track-management issues!)
This mountain is only climbed occasionally. The track is an illegally cut track, and the area is rated T4 by the PWS. Few people therefore get to see the logging going on on the western slopes of the Hartz Mountains National Park, which stands out like a sore thumb in the view eastwards from Mt Picton. Again, this logging in the Picton valley is inexcusable. These forests end up mainly as toilet paper or similar in various overseas countries, or burnt in large piles.
Obviously, if bushwalkers want others to smarten up their environmental act, there's a moral obligation to set a good example. It's also important in ensuring the landscape continues to exist in an attractive and useable state for the future. It's amazing how much damage bushwalkers can do.
For daywalkers, the basic rules are:
See the Parks website for the Minimum Impact Bushwalking guidelines..
The PWS has a Track Management Strategy. This includes a policy that some tracks should not be promoted, or that descriptions of the track should be kept vague or unknown. For this reason, there are several great walks in the Huon Valley that do not (or do not yet) appear in this site. When I work out how to include them without breaching the code, I'll do so. These include Mt Picton, Nevada Peak and Mt Weld.