Kevin Kiernan


The Tasmanian Forestry Commission is faced with complex karst management issues in State forest areas where management for wood production and management for other uses need to be married. Many important karsts remain under the control of the Forestry Commission, including large areas of Junee-Florentine and Mole Creek. In production forests karst management issues include the potential effects of a range of disturbances such as roading and clearfelling. In addition, the Commission also faces management problems of kinds more familiar to nature conservation agencies, including the impact of visitors upon caves.

For several years special provisions for timber harvesting on karst have been embodied in the Forest Practices Code, and Forest Practices Officers, who are responsible for harvesting plans, have received a basic grounding in earth science conservation, particularly karst issues. However, knowledge of the distribution and significance of karst areas within State forest remains very incomplete. In order to more effectively meet its obligation to protect important landforms, recently made more explicit in new legislation, the Commission is documenting the karsts and attempting to assess their conservation significance.

This information is being integrated into new statewide planning procedures, and incorporated onto the Commission's geographical information system. Research has also been undertaken regarding natural hazards in karst. Other research is being focussed on karst processes and the impact that forest management practices may have on karst caves. Tentative steps have been taken towards cave management planning, and management works have been undertaken in some caves in collaboration with members of the Australian Speleological Federation.


Only a tiny proportion of the world's karst is reserved to safeguard heritage values: most is land upon which people live and work, and it includes some of the most degraded land on earth. In Australasia too, only a small proportion of the region's karst is reserved land. Organisations such as ACKMA grapple for the most part with protection of important heritage values through reservation and appropriate reserve management. However, in the interests both of avoiding land and water degradation more generally and of safeguarding those elements of our karst heritage that do not have the benefit of protective conservation reserves and in many cases never will, upgrading the management of unreserved karst lands is essential. This paper is about the management of part of Australia's karst estate that for the most part is not reserved land, land that forms part of the resource for the forestry industry, which directly or indirectly feeds, houses and clothes one in every seven Tasmanian citizens.

Tasmania's karst estate is divided between several land tenures. Forest-covered karst occurs on freehold land, State forest, State Reserve and uncommitted crown lands. Under normal circumstances logging occurs on all but State reserves although in some cases it has also occurred on this tenure, as in the Junee-Florentine karst, Mt Field National Park. About 30% of the carbonate rock outcrops presently documented in Tasmania lie within State forest, of which it comprises ~5%. However, these figures mask the fact that much of the carbonate terrane outside State forest comprises areas of relatively low relief where karst may not be well developed due to a low hydraulic gradient, high water table or thick mantles of surficial sediment. Even where karstification has occurred in such landscapes, it may be visually very recessive and any caves may be inaccessible. In reality, probably at least half of the conspicuously karstified limestone and dolomite in Tasmania occurs on State forest, and an even higher proportion of the state's forest-covered karst.

The Forest Practices Code (FPC 1993), which was originally enacted in 1988, applies to logging on all land tenures where a timber processor intends clearfelling 10ha or more in the current financial year, or harvested more than 500 tonnes in the previous financial year. Most Tasmanian logging occurs on State forest and it is upon this tenure that this review of karst research and management is focussed. The Forest Practices Act (1985) is the legislative basis for the Code, which is now eight years old. At the 7th Australasian Cave & Karst Management Conference held in NSW six years ago I presented a paper in which I traced the origins of the move towards improved management of non-reserved karst in Tasmania (Kiernan 1988a).

At that time the first Tasmanian Forest Practices Code had recently been formulated and it contained specific provisions for forestry on karst. Since 1988 some significant areas of karst have been transferred from State forest to National Park status following the Helsham Commission of Inquiry into the Lemonthyme and Southern Forests and the subsequent extension of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area (Kiernan 1988a, 89a, 89b). Areas removed from State forest included the Cracroft, Lake Sydney, Weld Valley and Ida Bay karsts. These are now managed by the Parks and Wildlife Service (P&WS) within the Department of Environment and Land Management. Important karsts that remain partly or totally State forest managed by the Forestry Commision include Junee-Florentine, Mole Creek, various karsts in the Arthur River area, and several others.

In 1988 a Forest Practices Unit (FPU) was established to support implementation of the Code. The unit comprises a Chief Forest Practices Officer (CFPO), a general environmental officer, and a geomorphologist, an archaeologist, a botanist, a zoologist, and, more recently, a soil scientist. The FPU specialists are jointly funded by the industry and the Tasmanian State Government. Their duties are split between undertaking and fostering research and providing advice to the Forestry Commission and industry on forest management. Increasingly they are also involved in longer term forest planning. Karst research and management has been undertaken mainly by the small earth sciences group, comprising the Senior Geomorphologist and one or two project officers, one of whom is dedicated specifically to karst projects. However, other FPU specialists, particularly the archaeologist, have also had some involvement in karst.

Research Into Karst On State Forest

An adequate knowledge base is obviously essential to improving karst management. Two types of information are required, namely (1) details concerning the distribution, character and value of the karst in State forest, and (2) information concerning the likely sensitivity of these karst phenomena to disturbance by forest operations. In doing this, the Commission has combined a focus on its own karsts with an active interest in the experience of karst managers elsewhere (e.g. Kiernan 1988b, 1991a).

Karst Area Documentation

Tasmanian Karst Atlas Project

In Tasmania, only a few areas of karst have been geologically mapped in detail and many areas of the island remain essentially unmapped. Hence, the extent of potentially karstic rocks is still incompletely known. Some known areas of limestone have never been inspected for karst. Not even the best known of Tasmania's karsts have been properly assessed as to their values. The Tasmanian Karst Atlas project is a three-year program backed by the industry-funded Tasmanian Forest Research Council. The aim is to develop, by the end of 1993, a reconnaissance inventory of Tasmania's karst, some initial results having been incorporated in the Forestry Commissions' computerised Geographical Information System. It is essentially a broad-brush documentation being undertaken by Kevin Kiernan. It cannot provide a detailed assessment of all karsts, but more detailed case studies within particular types of karst are being prepared, often by geomorphologists or cavers on contract to the Forestry Commission. These case studies have included dolomite hill-flank karsts at Hastings (Jackson 1990a) and Tim Shea (Herne 1991); Ordovician limestone hill-flank karsts at Loongana (S. Eberhard 1991) and in the Mill - Kansas area at Mole Creek (Northern Caverneers Inc. 1990); plains karsts in the Smithton district (Henriksen 1990); and coastal karst at Point Hibbs (Eberhard, in prep.). One impediment to the study however has been the availability of suitable expertise.

District-based karst inventory work

Tasmania's forest estate is managed at a local level by several District offices of the Forestry Commission. During 1992 a new District Conservation Fund was established, involving contributions from the budget of each District, to facilitate conservation work statewide. The principal karst project to date is a study initiated in autumn 1993 to document the hydrology, landforms, values and karst management requirements of the Junee River catchment, part of the Junee-Florentine karst. This ambitious project is being undertaken by Rolan Eberhard and is due for completion in early 1994.

Other karst-specific inventory work

Some other documentation exercises that have been driven by operational and planning considerations have also improved the general data base on Tasmanian karst, including the Karst Atlas Project. Australian Newsprint Mills Ltd has funded a broad overview, undertaken by Derek Fable, of parts of its logging concession which includes Junee-Florentine and the Styx Valley. In 1992 it also commissioned a detailed examination of the Cole Creek area in the Florentine Valley (Drysdale 1992). The FPU has funded an overview of the Lune River plains (Clarke 1990), and a detailed examination of the Westfield area in the Florentine Valley (Eberhard 1992). Of particular note is the ongoing documentation of the little-known Mt Cripps karst by the Savage River Caving Club (Shannon et al 1991). This is being actively supported by APPM who view the cavers' activities as providing a useful contribution to forest management.

Other geomorphological investigations

Other wider geomorphological studies in which karst forms an important component are being presented as papers in the scientific literature, including work on the upper Weld Valley - Mt Anne area (Kiernan 1990a, 1990b), Lake Sydney (1989c), Mole Creek (Kiernan 1989) and Flinders Island (Kiernan 1992a). A summary volume of the 1984 Mole Creek karst forestry study (Kiernan 1984) has also been published (Kiernan 1989d) together with further details regarding the hydrogeology of Mole Creek (Kiernan 1989e). Overviews of various aspects of Tasmania's karst (Kiernan 1992b, 1993b), include a review of the karst resources of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area (Kiernan and Eberhard, in press) and in far northwestern Tasmania (Kiernan et al 1991).

Two District Conservation Fund projects currently being undertaken by Chris Sharples are of a more general nature, involving the documentation of sites of nature conservation significance from an earth science perspective in other parts of the state, but both are likely to involve at least some karst documentation. Investigations into the glacial geomorphology of Tasmania's forests have also touched upon or are relevant to the understanding of karst areas fringing the Central Highlands (Kiernan 1990c) and in the Forth Valley (Kiernan and Hannan 1991). In addition, documentation of archaeological sites by the FPU archaeologist and project officers on contract has included some sites in karst areas (Annear 1989, Bannear 1990, Kiernan et al 1989, McConnell 1989, Cosgrove 1990, Cosgrove and Murray, in prep.).

Karst Process Studies

Little Trimmer Underground Laboratory

In order to gain insight into the impacts of logging on karst phenomena a project entitled "Impact of Logging on Limestone Caves" was initiated in 1989. It was proposed initially that conditions in a cave might be monitored before and after a logging treatment. The project evolved instead into an attempt to better understand the natural processes in the cave environment through the establishment of a small underground laboratory in Little Trimmer Cave at Mole Creek, with data being obtained from other karst sites where logging has occurred at various times in the past to facilitate comparisons (Eberhard and Kiernan 1990). At Little Trimmer a number of parameters have been subject to continuous monitoring since 1990 by probes and data loggers: rainfall and temperature in the external environment; cave air temperature at three sites within the cave; dripwater flows at two sites within the cave; and streamflow. Regular dripwater collection has been undertaken from a number of sites for flow and water chemistry analysis, and instantaneous measurements obtained from several sites for dripwater flows and water quality analysis, stream water quality, airflow, humidity, cave wall temperature, carbon dioxide levels in the soil above the cave and in the cave atmosphere, and some other parameters. Detailed records of human movement through the cave are being maintained to allow conclusions to be drawn regarding certain forms of human impact underground. This project was funded for the first three years by a grant to Kevin Kiernan from the Australian National Parks & Wildlife Service with most of the work being undertaken by Rolan Eberhard, but this funding is now exhausted and a reduced program is currently limping on with limited Forestry Commission funding in an effort to get the minimum term of data record needed for reasonably valid conclusions to be drawn. It is hoped the project will extend over at least five years.

The establishment of the Little Trimmer project has facilitated some cave research by others. Stefan Eberhard was contracted by the Commission at the outset of the Trimmer project to compile a biological inventory which revealed the presence of 25 species, including 5 troglobitic species, in this 200m long cave (Eberhard 1990). Some population studies were initiated that have since evolved into a cave ecology study under the direction of Alastair Richardson and Roy Swain from the Zoology Department at the University of Tasmania. The fieldwork for this was undertaken firstly by Stefan Eberhard and now by Neil Doran whose zoology honours thesis was based partly on this work (Doran 1991).

Geomorphic hazards in karst

Investigations into the rapid formation of cover collapse sinkholes as a result of drainage changes associated with forest removal or roading have also been undertaken (Kiernan 1989f) and into other forms of land and water degradation in karst (Kiernan 1990d). Work has also been focussed on the origin of recent sediment accumulations in some caves, involving analysis of the 137Cs content of the sediments. This isotope is the product of atmospheric nuclear weapons testing since 1950 and its presence in sediments implies their being the product of erosion since that time. Results to date suggest that greater volumes of sediment have accumuated underground in environments subject to greatest forest disturbance. However, the proportion of 137Cs in the sediments is less in disturbed areas than in undisturbed areas. This suggests that a greater proportion of the sediment in the disturbed areas has been derived not from erosion of the ground surface but by the flushing of soil grains from deep in the profile directly into subsurface channels, presumably in response to an increase in percolation into the soil after forest removal has decreased transpiration levels (Kiernan, Eberhard and Campbell, in prep.). A small study on the impact of karst in inducing drought stress and resultant poor tree form has also been undertaken (Duncan and Kiernan 1989).


The Commission's aim in undertaking karst research is to obtain information that will allow it to more effectively meet its responsibilities as a multiple-use land manager. Since 1988 there have been a number of changes to the legislative, regulative and planning context within which this improved knowledge can be translated into better management. Some initiatives have been taken in the area of in-cave management.

New Forestry Legislation

The Public Land (Administration and Forests) Act 1991 established permanent wood production zones giving the timber industry secure long-term access to the wood resources they contain. A number of karst areas are involved. However, some occur on a category of land known as Deferred Forest, a sub-class of the wood production zones in which logging is not permitted for 10 years, but from which land may be released either for conservation purposes should sufficient productivity gains be made by the industry, or for wood production. Such release will demand the discovery of new scientific facts or exposition of high nature conservation values over and above those known at the time the Act was promulgated. Release is permissable only for scientific reasons - there is no provision for social, cultural, religious, aesthetic or any other values to be taken into account. However, the introductory paragraphs of the new Act have given more specific emphasis to the responsibilities of the Forestry Commission to protect important landforms (s.7(3)).

Forest Practices Code

The Forest Practices Code (FPC 1993) covers forest planning, roading, timber harvesting, the conservation of natural and cultural values, establishing forests and maintaining forests. Some of the karst implications of the original Code have been discussed previously (Kiernan 1988a). The Code makes specific provision for earth moving operations, logging, post-logging restoration, log loading, silviculture, pollution avoidance and planning in areas of karst. The advent of the Forest Practices Code demanded the development of training courses for Forest Practices Officers (FPOs) who are responsible for approval of timber harvesting operations. Within the context of these courses, about 100 FPOs have now been exposed to lectures and field excursions on karst. Only the smallest scale (but not necessarily environmentally benign) logging operations can now occur without approval by someone with at least some knowledge of karst. A handbook on geomorphological issues in forestry has been published by the FPU to assist FPOs and others involved in the industry to understand and respond to earth science conservation, and this includes karst information (Kiernan 1990e). Manuals that contain some karst information have also been produced by the FPU archaeologist (McConnell 1990) and zoologist (Taylor 1991).

In early 1993 a revised Forest Practices Code was introduced (Forestry Commission 1993). From the perspective of earth science conservation the major improvements involve the recognition of other important values besides karst. The Code seeks to ensure that landforms occurring on forested land are considered in production forestry at the planning and operational level (S. A4ac). It provides for the conservation of environmental diversity, including geomorphology, to be catered for principally in a system of Crown land reserves and/or by management prescription in production forestry (S.D). Additions to the karst provisions in the 1993 Code provide for:

Changes to other parts of the Code that are specific to karst provide for:

Pre-logging field inspections are also required in some cases, with inspections having been undertaken in such karsts as Mt Cripps, and the Florentine and Styx valleys. Other karst investigations have been necessitated along the Mayberry-Sassafras divide at Mole Creek by proposals to road in the area, and in three other localities at Mole Creek by proposals to establish private Timber Reserves. A proposal in 1989 to establish a Private Timber Reserve close to the Gunns Plains Cave State Reserve stimulated mapping of the cave by the Commission and water tracing experiments to determine the catchment of the cave stream. This work revealed that only a tiny portion of the cave lay beneath the cave reserve, the cave extending directly beneath the proposed Timber Reserve. The Forestry Commission therefore declined to approve the Timber Reserve. The landowner has the right to appeal to the Forest Practices Tribunal and to seek compensation, but to date has not done so.

Longer term planning procedures within the Forestry Commission

In 1991 new planning procedures were adopted by the Forestry Commission. These included the development of a Management Decision Classification system for areas of forest. Maps are being prepared for all parts of the state at a scale of 1:25 000, and on these sites of conservation or natural hazard significance are being delineated together with other forest information. The adoption of this system has provided a mechanism for integrating fairly rapidly into the basic data sets available at all levels within the organisation new information derived from reasearch into the natural and cultural values present in forest areas.

Forest Reserves

The Commission has for some years maintained a system of Forest Reserves, two of which, at the Julius River Caves and at Lake Chisholm, protect karst features. Both these reserves considerably predate the advent of the FPU. No new karst reserves have come into existence in recent years despite the geatly improved knowledge of karst on State forests. The 1985 Woodchip EIS gave a commitment that no further logging would take place in the Mole Creek area until decisions were made on any reserves needed in the area. A Memorandum of Understanding signed by the State and Commonwealth governments in 1986 indicated that export licences for wood products derived from the Mole Creek area would be conditional upon operations being conducted in accordance with special management guidelines prepared taking into account the recommendations of the Mole Creek report and the views of the Commonwealth Minister for primary industry on protection of National Estate values. Despite this, no action has been taken regarding the modifications to the reserve system at Mole Creek proposed in the 1984 study on that area, but nor has there been any logging as yet. Conservation recommendation (2) in the Tasmanian Forest and Forest Industry Strategy adopted by the state government in October 1991 involved the inclusion of the area in Deferred Forest, and indicated that no logging would occur pending further scientific studies to determine optimum boundaries for protection.

Cave management

As a multiple-use land manager, the Forestry Commission is also faced with the kinds of cave management problems familiar to nature conservation agencies, such as the impact of visitors upon caves, and has recognised its responsibility to respond to them (R. Eberhard 1991, Kiernan 1989g, 1990e). The Commission has sought to learn from the experience of past mistakes elsewhere (e.g. Kiernan and Eberhard 1991) and new ideas available through organisations such as ACKMA, while developing its own solutions. Recreational pressures within caves on State forest are often compounded by the advent of logging roads that facilitate access. One cave that has been subject to considerable pressure since its discovery in 1969 is Welcome Stranger in the Florentine Valley. In 1991 a draft management plan was prepared for this cave by Rolan Eberhard (R. Eberhard 1991). However, while this is being used to guide the Commission's management of this cave no final plan has been formalised by the Commission due to competition from other priorities in forest plannning.

The Croesus Cave State Reserve at Mole Creek protects only a very small portion of downstream Croesus Cave, the bulk of Croesus itself, other caves in the system of which it forms part, and the cave catchments, all lying in State forest. The outflow entrance to Croesus Cave has long been gated by P&WS who attempted to administer an access permit system for years while two ungated entrances on State forest allowed unfettered public access. In 1990 the Commission funded gating of the State forest entrances, commissioned the mapping of Croesus Cave (Jackson 1990b) and contracted Ernst Holland and Andy Spate to produce a study of management requirements in the cave (Spate and Holland 1990). Subsequent work has been undertaken by Kevin Kiernan towards the preparation of a draft Karst Area Management Plan for this sub-system of the Mole Creek karst. This seeks protective management by all agencies with responsibilities in the catchment as well as to provide guidelines for the management of particular caves, of which Croesus is only one.

At Welcome Stranger the management situation is again complicated by the orientation of arbitrary cadastral boundaries across the natural systems. The entrances to Welcome Stranger and part of the cave lie on State forest, the remainder of the cave and its catchment are in the Mt Field National Park. Since the legislative requirements for planning by the Forestry Commission and PW&S differ significantly, the production of cave management plans potentially involves a very complicated process. This compounds the delays caused by the planning teams in both agencies having clearly defined roles but perceiving other tasks to be of higher priority. Nevertheless, some minor in-cave management works have been undertaken. Rolan Eberhard has established a photo-monitoring system to document visitor impacts in Welcome Stranger Cave. Speleothem cleaning and route delineation in both Croesus Cave and My Cave were undertaken jointly by the Commission and participants in an Australian Speleological Federation conference during January 1993. Signs were installed in both caves and a raft was installed in Croesus to allow visitors to avoid walking on the Golden Stairs, a large flowstone cascade.

The Commission has also contributed more widely in the area of cave management through participating in two interdepartmental committees. The Wargata Mina Committee met during 1989 to deal with management problems in this archaeologically significant cave in the Cracroft Valley, previously in State forest but now part of the Southwest National Park. More recently, the Cave Management Committe, established within P&WS some years ago by Greg Middleton, was reactivated largely at the instigation of Peter Mooney and expanded to include representation from the Forestry Commision and recreational cavers. The Commission also contributed to the Exit Cave Quarry deliberations by releasing their geomorphologist on secondment to P&WS to undertake the hydrogeological investigations that demonstrated that polluted runoff from the quarry drained into Exit Cave (Kiernan 1991b).


Karst forms only one part of the earth science conservation task that faces the Forestry Commission and, hence, other priorities also exist (Kiernan 1990f, 1992d). Nevertheless, progress has been made regarding the karst in Tasmania's forests since its importance was raised by the 1984 Mole Creek study and since the advent of the FPU. Most of this work has been directed towards improving the data base on karst. There has also been an increasing response to the need to manage caves used for recreation. That the Forestry Commission should be at the forefront of activities of this kind is totally appropriate given that some very important karsts lie in State forest and that the consequences for karst of forestry activities have the potential to be profound. In some cases the arbitrary nature of land tenure boundaries in fact means that there is also a high probability of forestry operations adversely impacting upon karst in adjacent State Reserves.

The benefits of these karst initiatives by the Commission have extended more widely than State forests. Other agencies such as the Department of Primary Industry, the Department of Main Roads, the Department of Environment and Planning, and some municipal councils and private individuals have drawn upon the karst expertise available. For example, P&WS have over the years sought assistance regarding such matters as toilet arrangements at Hastings Caves, development problems in the Vale of Belvoir, proposed Hydro Electric Commission stream gauging on karst in the World Heritage Area, management problems in Exit Cave, planning to reduce the impact of visitors in Wargata Mina, environmental monitoring within the King Solomons tourist cave, the Exit Cave Quarry, and the State Reserve at Sassafras Cave. One local council has recently adopted a Karst Zone in its municipal plan on the basis of a hydrogeological map prepared as part of the Karst Atlas project.

Indeed, it could reasonably be argued that the fact that a body concerned primarily with wood production has taken such measures has stimulated others to upgrade their own efforts. For example, since many of these initiatives were first taken by the Forestry Commission, P&WS, whose karst activities had long been orientated primarily to running tourist caves, has taken a number of steps: the secondment of Andy Spate to P&WS to undertake a management study of Kubla Khan Cave; the development of improved systems for recreational access to caves, (reworked by Spate from proposals in the Croesus Cave study for the Forestry Commission (Spate and Holland 1990); the secondment of Kevin Kiernan from Forestry to undertake the hydrogeological work on the Exit Cave Quarry; and the advent of management planning for Exit Cave. This process of change culminated a little over a year ago when P&WS engaged Ian Houshold on a three-year contract to provide in-house karst expertise.

Within the Forestry Commission itself there is now an increasing body of information becoming available upon which decisions can be based, and new planning procedures have been established to streamline effective action. However, this does not guarantee improvements in the actual allocation of land or the management of land. Under the Public Land (Administration and Forests) Act 1991 knowledge possessed prior to late 1991 is disallowed as a basis for reserving new areas. In the case of Deferred Forests, more information was held to be required about boundary locations rather than the significance of the areas involved. The question does arise, however, as to just how much study is warranted - the Croesus Cave area has now been studied relatively ad nauseum, and a continuation must be at the expense of work on other areas. A place so obviously important and sensitive should be formally set aside for protection and the land tenure situation properly resolved now, rather than awaiting the relatively diminishing returns of ever more detailed study. While the Forestry Commission may feel the area is safe because no logging is immediately proposed, there are other implications of leaving the matter unresolved in any formal sense. For example, the fact that Deferred Forest remains open to mining is of concern. My own perception, which may not be shared by others, is that attitudes towards forest area protection in Tasmania have become increasingly antipathetic over the last couple of years, hence the delays may also make eventual protection ever less likely. No process has been established to resolve the future of the Deferred Forests statewide.

Relative priorites within the Commission are also revealed by staffing, including the fact that even after five years of intensive work the FPU specialists remain engaged only on temporary contract open to termination upon seven days notice. The economic climate that has now evolved may mean that this inaction in providing security of employment has precluded much likelihood of change in the foreseeable future. Cave or karst management have not been seen as sufficiently important to be formally adopted as part of the duties of any district staff member as yet, hence there is no local expertise on the ground. The cultural evolution necessary to make the Commission a truly multiple-use land manager wil inevitably take time, particularly when conservation initiatives must be funded out of royalties derived from timber sales, but how long can we afford this evolutionary process to take?

Currently the State Government proposes to create an amalgamated Resources Department to include the Forestry Commission, with its karst management initiatives, and the Mines Department, which has shown no sign of regarding limestone as anything other than a commodity to be quarried. Should this proposal go ahead, the implications for the karst initiatives taken by the Commission, and indeed the existence of geomorphology within the FPU, may be in question.

Nevertheless, that the Forestry Commission has taken the steps it has to improve its karst management capability is all the more laudable given the virtual absence of any karst advocacy groups in the community bringing pressure to bear upon it. Political processes may have encouraged this development, but the mainstream conservation movement has not shown any significant interest in karst management or cave conservation apart from the involvement of some influential conservation activists in the Exit Cave Quarry debate. In that case, not merely Exit Cave was at stake but also wider issues regarding management of the World Heritage Area that may have been at least as great a motivation for some activists. In the past, earth science conservation has tended to be embraced by the conservation movement only when to do so was seen to potentially support some other part of its agenda: essentially driven by real and/or putative wilderness values, and very biocentric, the conservation movement has generally shown little real interest in earth-science conservation, perhaps seeing it as a ploy by geologists to help mining companies get their foot in the door of natural area management. A recent exception is indicated by the launching in April 1993, by a Green member of the Tasmanian parliament, of a move to secure Nature Guarantee legislation. This proposal is similar to Victoria's Flora and Fauna Guarantee legislation but includes geomorphic, geologic and soil sites, and has been developed by Tasmania's Threatened Species Network.

In the absence of community-based karst advocacy, there is little incentive to resolve the future of places such as Croesus Cave. The report of the Commonwealth Government's Resources Assessment Commission (1992) ignored the question of earth science conservation despite its inclusion in submissions by the Tasmanian Forestry Commission. Tasmania's principal conservation agency, P&WS, has not pursued any of the 1984 proposals for reserves at Mole Creek, which include some of the most celebrated karst in Australia and caves as important as Herberts Pot and Croesus. The Forestry Commission has other issues regarding Tasmania's forest estate to preoccupy it besides caves that neither the conservation movement nor P&WS seem to be interested in anyway. In such circumstances protection of important karst appears likely to remain reliant on the sort of intellectual integrity already shown by the Forestry Commission, even if its vision is sometimes blinkered.

It should also be noted that disadvantages accrue to the forest industry as a result of the Forest Practices Code that do not impact in comparable ways on other parts of the Tasmanian community. For example, while the Forestry Commission had the capacity to decline the proposal for a Private Timber Reserve at Gunns Plains, the property owner would be quite within his rights to bulldoze the entire site if he chose to develop it for pasture instead of timber. No constraints comparable to those within the Forest Practices Code face farmers or miners exploring karst areas. This situation again emphasises the significance of the steps taken in forestry, but does not encourage them. Indeed, there seems to me a real risk that initiatives such as the Junee-Florentine karst study, which must include both the State forest and the National Park, will become increasingly difficult to justify when funding is one-sided. In that particular case, while operations on State forest have the capacity to adversely affect caves in the National Park, the flow of negative impacts is far from all one way: karst systems on the State forest are being damaged by sedimentation as a result of unnatural landslides in the National Park caused by escaped fishermen's fires from the park and escaped management fires from the State forest, while sediment derived from untreated roads in the National Park also threatens caves downslope in the State forest. In karst management co-operative approaches are often needed; the advances that have accrued to date in Tasmania are unlikely to be sustainable if the commitment remains one-sided.


The efforts over many years of many Tasmanian cavers, too numerous to mention by name, have laid the foundation for karst inventory work within the Forestry Commission. I also wish to acknowledge the assistance and encouragement received from Mick Brown, Bert Witte, Humphrey Elliott, and John Hickey of the Forestry Commission; Greg Middleton from P&WS; and Andy Warner from APPM. Without the earlier support of John Rushton I may not have persisted. I acknowledge a particularly large debt to my colleague Rolan Eberhard. Mick Brown, Rolan Eberhard and Bert Witte provided comments on a draft of this paper, but responsibility for any errors, omissions and opinions expressed remains my own.


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HERNE, M. 1991 Tim Shea Kast Report and Inventory. Unpublished report to Forestry Commission, Tasmania. 20pp.

JACKSON, P. 1990 The Hastings Karst Inventory. Unpublished report to Forestry Commission, Tasmania. 17pp.

JACKSON, P. 1990 Croesus Cave MC 13., 1:500. Unpublished map prepared for Forestry Commission, Tasmania. 1 sheet.

KIERNAN, K. 1984 Land-use in Karst Areas. Forestry operations and the Mole Creek Caves. Report to Forestry Commission, Tasmania, and National Parks & Wildlife Service, Tasmania. 320pp.

KIERNAN, K. 1988a Karst management in commercial forests. Paper presented to 7th Australasian Cave & Karst Management Conference, NSW. 9pp.

KIERNAN, K. 1988b Forest management in the karst areas of Tasmania. Paper presented to International Association of Hydrogeologists 21st Congress "Karst Hydrogeology and Karst Environment Protection", Guilin City, China, 10-15 October 1988.

KIERNAN, K. 1989a The impact of the World Heritage Convention on the management of karst in Tasmania. pp. 92-117 [in] K.A. Wilde (ed.) Cave Management in Australasia VIII. Department of Conservation, Buller District, New Zealand. 261pp.

KIERNAN, K. 1989b Human impacts and management responses in the karsts of Tasmania. pp. 69-92 [in] D.S. Gillieson & D.I. Smith (eds.) Resource Management in Limestone Landscapes: international perspectives. Special Publication No.2, Department of Geography and Oceanography, University College, Australian Defence Force Academy, Canberra. 260pp.

KIERNAN, K. 1989c Drainage evolution in a Tasmanian glaciokarst. Helictite 27(1): 2-12.

KIERNAN, K. 1989d Caves, Karst and Management at Mole Creek, Tasmania. Department of Parks, Wildlife and Heritage, Tasmania, Occasional Paper 22. 130 pp.

KIERNAN, K. 1989e Underground drainage at Mole Creek, Tasmania. Australian Geographical Studies 28(2): 224-239.

KIERNAN, K. 1989f Sinkhole Hazards in Tasmania. pp. 123-128 [in] B.F. Beck (ed.) Engineering and Environmental Impacts of Sinkholes and Karst. Balkema, Rotterdam.

KIERNAN, K. 1989g Issues in cave and karst management. Australian Parks and Recreation. 25(4): 28-32.

KIERNAN, K. 1989h Landform conservation in Tasmania. pp. 13-14 [in] R. Fensham (ed.) Threatened Species and Habitats in Tasmania. Proceedings 1989. Centre for Environmental Studies, University of Tasmania, Hobart. 14pp.

KIERNAN, K.1990a The alpine geomorphology of the Mt Anne massif, southwestern Tasmania. Australian Geographer 21(2): 113-125.

KIERNAN, K.1990b Bathymetry and origin of Lake Timk, Tasmania. Helictite 28(1): 18-21.

KIERNAN, K. 1990c The extent of late Cainozoic glaciation in the Central Highlands of Tasmania. Arctic & Alpine Research 22(4): 341-354.

KIERNAN, K. 1990d Soil and water degradation in carbonate rock terranes. Australian Journal of Soil and Water Conservation 3(4): 26-33.

KIERNAN, K. 1990e Forest Practices Geomorphology Manual. Forestry Commission, Hobart. 58 pp.

KIERNAN, K.1991a Living with limestone: some reflections on karst management in China. pp. 1-12 [in] P. Bell (ed.) Proc. 9th ACKMA Conference. Augusta-Margaret River Tourist Bureau, W.A.

KIERNAN, K. 1991b The Exit Cave Quarry, Ida Bay Karst System, Tasmanan World Heritage Area. A hydrogeological perspective. Report to Department of Parks, Wildlife & Heritage, Tasmania.

KIERNAN, K. 1992a Some coastal landforms in aeolian calcarenite, Flinders Island, Bass Strait. Helictiite 30(1): 11-19

KIERNAN, K. 1992b Karst Hydrogeology in Tasmania. [in] W. Back, J. Herman & H. Paloc (eds.) Hydrogeology of Selected Karst Regions. International Contributions to Hydrogeology 13:377-392.

KIERNAN, K. 1992c Karst and cave areas of Tasmania. Tastrog 1993. Proc. 19th. Bienn. Conf. Aust. Speleol. Fed.: 11-24

KIERNAN, K. 1992d Landform conservation in Tasmania. COCOM Fifth Regional Seminar on National Parks & Wildlife Management, Tasmania 1991. Resource Document. Tas. Dept. Parks, Wildlife & Heritage, Hobart: 112-129.

KIERNAN, K. & EBERHARD, R. 1991 Scotts Cave, Tasmania: a case study of a neglected former tourist cave. pp. 33-35 [in] P. Bell (ed.) Proc. 9th ACKMA Conference Augusta-Margaret River Tourist Bureau, W.A.

KIERNAN, K. & EBERHARD, S. in press. Karst resources and cave biology in the Tasmanian World Heritage Area. [in] S. Smith (ed.) Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Values. Royal Society of Tasmania.

KIERNAN, K. & HANNAN, D. 1991 Glaciation of the upper Forth River catchment, Tasmania. Aust. Geog. Studs. 29(1): 157-166.

KIERNAN, K., HENRIKSEN, D., ROSEVEAR, P. & WARNER, A. 1991 Karst management in far northwestern Tasmania. pp. 31-32 [in] P. Bell (ed.) Proc. 9thACKMA Conference. Augusta-Margaret River Tourist Bureau, W.A.

KIERNAN, K., McCONNELL, A., McGOWAN, A., BANNEAR, D. & AIREY, P. 1989 Karst engineering beneath an early Australian Railway. Australian Journal of Historical Archaeology 7: 59-62.

McCONNELL, A. 1989 Keeping the forest history: The management of the cultural heritage of forests: A Tasmanian example. [In] K.J. Frawley & N. Semple (eds.) Australia's Ever Changing Forests: Proceedings of the First National Conference on Australian Forest History, Canberra, May 1988. Dept. Geography & Oceanography, University College, Australian Defence Force Academy, Canberra McCONNELL, A. 1990 Forest Archaeology Manual. Forestry Commission, Tasmania. 75pp.

NORTHERN CAVERNEERS INC. 1990 An inventory of the Karst Phenomena of the Mill Creek Area. Unpublished report to Forestry Commission, Tasmania, 10pp, & addendum 19 February 1991, 2pp.

PODGER, F.D., BAYLY-STARK, J., BROWN, M.J., DELAHUNT, A., KIERNAN, K., KIRKPATRICK, J.B., LAW, G.M., RANSON, D & RICHARDSON, A.M. 1990 Report of the Panel of Experts of the Conservation Technical Working Group. Forests & Forests Industry Council, Hobart.

RESOURCE ASSESSMENT COMMISSION (1992) Forest and Timber Industry Report. AGPS, Canberra. 3 vols.

SHANNON, H, DUTTON, B., HEAP, D. & SALT, F. 1991 The Mount Cripps Karst, N orth Western Tasmania. Helictite 29(1): 3-7.

SPATE, A. P. & HOLLAND, E. 1990 Croesus Cave Mole Creek Tasmania. A Review of Resources, Visitors Impacts and Management Issues. Unpublished report to Forestry Commission, Tasmania. 64pp

TAYLOR, R.J. 1991 Fauna Conservation in Production Forest in Tasmania. Forestry Commission, Tasmania. 120pp.