Protecting Wilderness and National Parks

Proceedings of the 5th National Wilderness Conference


Fifth National Wilderness Conference
8-10 September, 2006, University of Technology, Sydney

Closing remarks by Dr Geoff Mosley, AM
Introduction – by Ian Brown, incorporating a clear statement on wilderness.
Paper One – Pat Thompson opened the conference and read the Welcome to Country .
Paper Two – Graham West, for the Minister for the Environment, Opening Address .
Paper Three – Conference Summary and Recommendations by Geoff Mosley and Ian Brown. (A Wilderness Plan of Action)
Paper Four – Keynote Address Celebrating Wilderness by Helen Gee
Paper Five – Wilderness and Inspiration by Bob Brown
Paper Six – The Value of Wilderness of Nature Conservation by Prof Jamie Kirkpatrick
Paper Seven – Wilderness in Northern Australia by Keith Muir and John Sinclair
Paper Eight – Wilderness in Tasmania by Geoff Law
Paper Nine – Keeping the Wild in Wilderness by Virginia Young
Paper Ten – The Wilderness Knot by Haydn Washington
Paper Eleven – A National Wilderness System by Peter Prineas
Paper Twelve – Background Notes to the Conference by Geoff Mosley

A course for Wilderness and the Future by Geoff Mosley

The Fifth National Wilderness Conference, hosted by the Colong Foundation at University of Technology Sydney from the 8 th to 10 th September issued a resounding vote of confidence in wilderness and its future. Attended by conservationists from most States and Territories it brought together the national defenders of wilderness for the first time in many years (the Fourth National Conference was held in 1993).

The overarching aim of the wilderness movement remains the securing of an expanded national wilderness system and the presentations and discussions demonstrated that the support for this is as strong as ever. The other dominant theme of the Conference dialogue concerned the contribution wilderness can make to the imperative goal of a move to a truly sustainable society.

By design, half of the Conference was given over to discussions in workshops and the plenary session considered the following topics: how best to promote the benefits of wilderness in the wider community; the priority actions needed to overcome obstacles and take advantage of opportunities in advancing wilderness protection across Australia; and actions for overcoming management and philosophical difficulties concerning wilderness.

The Chair of the Colong Foundation Board, Pat Thompson , opened the Conference and read a Welcome to Country and a message from David King to the Conference on behalf of the Gundungurra Tribal Council and the Gundungurra People with full respect and acknowledgement to the Cadigal clan who are Traditional Owners of the Sydney Region. The Conference got off to a good start on the Friday evening with a welcome from Graham West, representing the state government who presented a stirring speech in support of wilderness. An inspirational keynote address followed by Helen Gee . Helen set the tone for the remainder of the meeting by imploring wilderness conservationists to hold fast to their dreams.

She was followed on the Saturday by two more Tasmanians, Bob Brown and Jamie Kirkpatrick, speaking about the values of wilderness. Then the current situation with wilderness protection in Northern and Southern Australia was described by Keith Muir and Geoff Law respectively. On Sunday Virginia Young explained the TWS ‘Wild Country Program' and Haydn Washington presented the results of his ground breaking research. Into untying the philosophical, cultural, justice and exploitation knots which act as a barrier to progress in wilderness conservation. Finally, Peter Prineas presented a paper on progress and prospects for ‘A National Wilderness System'.

In the plenary after a summation of the outcome of the workshop recommendations the Chair, Peter Thompson, led the delegates through a participatory exercise which drew out some final thoughts of the delegates on future actions. The Conference recommendations arising from the workshops and the plenary were combined by Geoff Mosley and Ian Brown into a ‘Wilderness Plan of Action'. It was agreed that it was up to all with an interest in wilderness to play a part in implementing this plan.