Recently our local newspaper The Mercury published a Letter to the Editor from a woman who wants the Derwent River to become a World Heritage Site. I imagine long term readers of my blog will come immediately to a similar opinion to mine. I think the ‘horse has bolted’: the river is no longer running freely and its edges are no longer clothed in pristine original bush, both features which I feel sure an application for World Heritage status would need. So I sent off a response to that letter. Thanks Mary for alerting me to its publication.
My photograph below blurs my words – they read: Joanne Marsh (Letter to Ed 12/2/16), when she argues for the Derwent River to become a World Heritage Site, does not know the Derwent River well. During my ‘walkingthederwent’ project from the mouth near the Iron Pot to the source near Lake St Clair, I have seen both sides of our River. Very little original forest and environment remains. Where the edges of the River have not been built on by private owners or businesses, shaped by local government into parkland, or cleared for cattle or sheep to graze or to grow crops, the land is covered with plantation forests. Upstream, the Derwent River has been re-engineered with dams, lakes and lagoons. The birds still sing along the Derwent River, but very little of its edges has World Heritage significance. Perhaps that is the shame of the situation.
A more recent letter writer believes the Derwent River is of World Heritage value based on the view that esteemed French and English explorers, prior to European settlement, named the River. I will be interested to see if future letters are published on this theme.