By Tabatha Badger
“Lake Pedder was sunk beneath the Middle Gordon hydro-electric scheme. The beautiful lake and its mile-long pink sand beach – which I last saw in 1972 – was lost for a pittance of power,” recalls Bob Brown. Dr Brown, who amongst his many titles is also the secretary of the Lake Pedder Restoration Committee, continues: “Lake Pedders e-emergence is on the way as our Restore Pedder movement gathers public support to remove the small dams and recover the beach and lake in the Tasmanian World Heritage Wilderness Area.”
Fellow former Greens Senator and Party Leader, Christine Milne and Tasmanian ecological restoration practitioner Todd Dudley also took up leading roles in the Committee almost one year ago to get political agreement to the restoration of this unique ecosystem by the 50th anniversary in March 2022.
A new generation of climate aware campaigners have joined the call for Lake Pedder’s restoration. This surging support enabled the committee to employ restoration ecologist Dr. Anita Wild to undertake a scientific scoping and feasibility study, a vital step towards restoration.
“The wild landscapes of south-western Tasmania have a special place in my heart and the images of Lake Pedder I first saw as a teenager started this fascination for me; I was never fortunate enough to see the ‘real thing’.” Anita says, “Through my professional career as a restoration ecologist, I have studied many significant examples of restoration ecology in many places in Europe and heard how restoration can empower and benefit local communities and give a sense of purpose to the community as a whole.”
The Pedder impoundment provides less than 4% of Tasmania’s total electricity demand. An alternative power supply required, would be equivalent to the electricity output of a large wind farm, such as that currently being built at Cattle Hill, just 50 – 60 turbines. While scientific depth sounding and diving found the original Lake Pedder beach and its iconic dune system remain intact and in 1995 a federal House of Representatives Committee of Inquiry found restoration to be technically feasible.
“I now know we can now restore the beauty, ecological function and power of this place.” says Dr. Wild beaming with optimism.
An area of 15,000 hectares (equivalent to 6,000 MCG’s) would be restored, making the Lake Pedder restoration one of the biggest ecological restoration projects in the world.
With the inevitable extreme weather events induced by climate change and midst a dual biodiversity and extinction crisis, the bold call the restore Pedder may be the optimistic symbol humanity needs in this time of anxious despair. A courageous undertaking to restore balance with the natural world. This is certainly how committee co-convenor Todd Dudley sees it.
“The upcoming UN Decade of Ecosystem Restoration (2021-2030) signals a growing recognition that ecological restoration is an idea whose time has well and truly come.
I have been a bush regeneration/ecological restoration practitioner for over 35 years. Why is it worthwhile to restore an ecosystem? Why should a person or a group of people put time and effort into such activities? I believe that being involved in ecological restoration activities creates opportunities for people to contribute to the well being of nature. In the physical act of repairing the earth we can embrace the intrinsic value of our unique native plants, animals and landscapes.”
Lake Pedder has been the catalyst for Tasmanian environmental conservation efforts, Pedder was the unjustified loss initiated the world’s first Green political party, today mother nature is crying out for our help, the environmental tide has turned, as Todd summarises, “The restoration of Lake Pedder is an iconic project which can be a catalyst for Tasmania to become a leader in ecological restoration science, practice and ethics. Ecological restoration can be a paradigm for a positive relationship between humans and the natural world”
“The flooding of Lake Pedder was iconic for all the wrong reasons; now it can be restored for the right reasons.” concludes Dr. Wild, “I would say the question is not why? It’s why not?”
The Lake Pedder Restoration Committee needs your help. Please donate today at: https://chuffed.org/project/restorepedder. These funds will be used to get the advice of engineers, energy specialists and economists to model dam removal scenarios and provide the advice we need to show that Pedder can be restored while achieving a renewable energy future for Tasmania. The summer of 2021-22 will be 50 years since Lake Pedder was flooded. We want agreement to pull the plug and Restore Pedder by this anniversary. We have a plan. We need your help to make it happen.
Check out www.lakepedder.org for more info .
(Photos: Andy Szollosi, Geoff Parr, David Neilson)