The Wilderness Society (Australia)

The Wilderness Society (Australia)

The Wilderness Society (TWS) is an Australian not-for-profit non-governmental environmental advocacy whose mission is protecting, promoting and restoring wilderness and its natural processes. [ [ The Wilderness Society - Australia ] ] It is a community-based organisation with a philosophy of non-violence and consensus decision-making. While TWS is a politically unaligned group, it actively engages the community to lobby politicians and parties. [web cite
title=The Wilderness Society
work=Wesley Mission - Green Conscience
] "TWS" is often pronounced "twiz" (IPA|twɪz).


It spent considerable energy in its first decades of existence arguing that wilderness was a specific quality in parts of Australia's environment that was vital to preserve for future generations. The political response in most states of Australia, is that there are now wilderness inventories, and acknowledgement of areas of wilderness.

The Wilderness Society's campaigns have included:
* stopping logging in old growth forests [ [ Australia's forests — The Wilderness Society ] ]
* preventing destruction of endangered species habitats;
* protecting Queensland's Wild Rivers [ [ Help us protect Cape York Peninsula's Wild Rivers! — Wild Rivers ] ] and Cape York Peninsula [ [ The Wilderness Society - Cape York Peninsula ] ] .
* Anti-nuclear campaign [ [ Yes! to Nuclear Free Australia ] ]


The Wilderness Society was formed initially as a protest group called The Tasmanian Wilderness Society to fight against the apparent unchecked power of The HEC to build dams wherever it saw fit without external checks. The bureaucrats and engineers of the HEC had appeared to exert an influence over politicians and the community, justifying this stance as being in the best interest of Tasmania, specially regarding the fate of Lake Pedder.

The motivation for the TWS formation was the planning and construction of the Franklin Dam on the Gordon River, in South West Tasmania by the HEC. To the TWS and many Australians, the Gordon and Franklin Rivers were seen as part of the South West Wilderness, and not as an extension of the on-going HEC expansion.

The group was originally established in 1976 from the members of the Southwest Action Committee. Along with the United Tasmania Group, they had protested against the earlier flooding of Lake Pedder. The group had established interstate branches within a short time, and was nation-wide by 1980.

Following the success of the Franklin Dam issue, and the national approach being more important due to other issues interstate, it became known as The Wilderness Society.

Tasmanian forestry business Gunns has brought a litigation case against the Society in the Melbourne Supreme Court, in a case dubbed the "Gunns 20". Proceedings are ongoing.


The most prominent of those who helped the society evolve was Dr. Bob Brown, who became the director of the Wilderness Society in 1978, and with him the group greatly increased their presence in Tasmanian politics. Brown was elected to the Tasmanian parliament in 1983, and with the group of fellow conservationists elected subsequently, he went on to become part of the political party known as the Tasmanian Greens. Bob Brown was later elected to represent Tasmania and the Greens in the Senate in the Federal parliament, a position he still retains.

While The Wilderness Society has worked with them on certain campaigns, it is not affiliated with the Greens, or any other political party, and has a policy of not allowing its paid campaigners to be part of any political party either.

WildCountry initiative

The Wilderness Society's long-term vision and strategy is to revolutionise conservation planning in Australia. This involves both protecting the best of what is left of Australia's natural environment and restoring important areas. The Wilderness Society's conservation framework is "WildCountry", a continent-wide, long-term conservation initiative to maintain and restore connections, flows or processes that exist between Australia's ecological environments (or "landscapes"), as well as bringing understanding to the changing connections that exist between species, habitat, climate and people. [web cite|url=|title=WildCountry: A New Vision for Nature|accessdate=2007-02-06 ] . The WildCountry framework was developed in collaboration with ecological scientists, and outlines a concept for a for Australia. The inspiration for WildCountry came from the Wildlands Project in the United States [web cite|url=|title=WildCountry: A Plan to Rewild Australia|work=Earthbeat, Radio National (transcript)] .


The Wilderness Society has been criticisedww as only pandering to populist environmental issuesFact|date=May 2008, distracting attention away from several equally important but less recognised environmental problems. Not known for active campaigning in relation to regulating Australian farming practices, weed management, control of vermin or urban sprawl Fact|date=May 2008, TWS prefers to concentrate on better publicised issues such as forestryFact|date=May 2008.


Traditionally fundraising was performed through their Wilderness Society Shops, which were popular for many of their calendars and posters by photographers such as Peter Dombrovskis and Olegas Truchanas. But following the rise of the Internet, online shopping is now as important as well as fund raising from membership.


Further reading

*Gee, H and Fenton, J. (Eds) (1978) "The South West Book - A Tasmanian Wilderness" Melbourne, Australian Conservation Foundation. ISBN 0-85802-054-8
* Lines, William J. (2006) "Patriots : defending Australia's natural heritage" St. Lucia, Qld. : University of Queensland Press, 2006. ISBN 0-70223-554-7
*Neilson, D. (1975) "South West Tasmania - A land of the Wild". Adelaide. Rigby. ISBN 0-85179-874-8

External links

* [ The Wilderness Society official website]
* [ History of the Wilderness Society]
* [ Wildlands Project 110]

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