By Christine Milne
There are times in our lives when momentous events occur and you remember where you were and how you felt at the time and the feeling never leaves you. I was an eighteen year old University student when I learned that the Tasmanian Government had approved the drowning of Lake Pedder, the globally renowned jewel of our South West Wilderness. I couldn’t believe it would disappear under the impoundment created by the damming of the Gordon, Serpentine and upper Huon Rivers, but it did. I decided then and there that I would never stand by and allow the excesses of hydro industrialisation to destroy our wilderness again and that is why I joined the blockade to save the Franklin River. The flooding of Lake Pedder led to the formation of the world’s first Green party, The United Tasmania Group and inspired a global movement to protect nature. Now is the time for the restoration of Lake Pedder to inspire the world again as a beacon of 21st Century Ecological Restoration.
Lake Pedder is where it all began…
The original Lake Pedder is where it all began… from inspiring formation of the world’s first Green party to fuelling a global movement to protect nature and our planet’s wild places
Photograph by Les Southwell from the Frankland Ranges in 1972 – just prior to its flooding
The beauty of the original Lake Pedder, declared a national park in 1955, was an inspiration to a generation of adventurers, conservationists and artists who felt a deep connection with the wild places of Tasmania. From the famed photographers Olegas Truchanas and his protege Peter Dombromvski to the Sunday Painters including Elspeth Hope-Johnstone, Max Angus, Patricia Giles, Harry Buckie to political leaders such as Dick Jones and many that followed him, it was a place to be treasured and defended.
The threat to flood Pedder saw adventurers become activists and politically engaged citizens. The campaigns that followed saw the Franklin River saved and Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area declared and later expanded to incorporate magnificent old growth forests and the valuable wild places that define the Tasmania we know today. The emerging visionary and activist, Petra Kelly, visited Tasmania and saw the achievement of the United Tasmania Group, the world’s first Green Party. Inspired, she returned to Germany and founded the German Greens.
The loss of Pedder divided and polarised the Tasmanian community. It pitched a battle over the false paradigm of conservation versus growth, of “greenies” versus jobs and profit. It was a moment where the Government of the day took a decision against the pleas of the community from left and right, young and old, and against the recommendations of scientists and international bodies. Michael Hodgman (father of the current Premier of Tasmania and then MLC) presented a petition by 184 scientists to the Legislative Council urging postponement of the flooding.
The day has come…
The day has come to Restore Pedder!
The singular pursuit of economic growth and domination of nature has led to the collapse of ecosystems, accelerated species loss, and caused climate changes and global warming to the point where we are tracking toward ecological collapse.
Barrister Edward St John (Sydney Liberal MHR, 1974) famously stated in response to the flooding of Lake Pedder, “The day will come when our children will undo what we so foolishly have done.” That day has come.
Our children are rallying together and marching on the streets demanding climate action and protection the precious ecosystems that support life on Earth. It is our children who see the natural interconnection of the impacts of our society on nature and the planet. It is our children who are setting the agenda of this Century to restore and build resilience in Nature so that it can sustain itself and humanity with it.
The campaign to save Lake Pedder in the 1960’s and 70’s inspired a global conservation movement. Its restoration could be the global symbol that we can restore our invaluable ecosystems, degraded landscapes and protect our wild places. It can also be a symbol that our values have changed. That we can live in balance with nature. That we can unite and bridge the divisions in our community and take the large scale action needed to ensure a sustainable future.
Let’s make the summer of 2021-22 another momentous moment in global conservation history. It will be fifty years since the water of the Serpentine impoundment swallowed Lake Pedder and it coincides with the United Nations declaring 2021-2030 the UN Decade for Ecological Restoration. It is time to ‘pull the plug’ on Pedder.
The Lake Pedder Restoration Committee plans to have an Ecological Management Plan to restore the original Lake Pedder and surrounding iconic ecosystems ready to go to Governments by 2021. We need your help to restore this magnificent landscape and to give the world hope that ecological restoration is not a pipe dream but the positive life giving force critical in the face of the extinction and climate emergencies we face.
Join us to provide the symbol of hope we need to inspire global change.
@Restore Pedder is coordinated by the Lake Pedder Restoration Committee Co-Convened by Christine Milne and Todd Dudley, Bob Brown is Secretary and Chris Holliday is Treasurer.
Restore Pedder is supported by: Bob Brown Foundation, Keep Tassie Wild, State Cinema, Tasmanian Conservation Trust, Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre and The Wilderness Society.
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org for more info.
Help bring this ancient landscape back to life!
Photograph by Elspeth Hope-Johnstone of the original Lake Pedder in the Southwest Wilderness