A renowned wilderness photographer has revealed photographic evidence of four-wheel-drives being operated on the Tarkine coast, an area where such activities are prohibited.
Rob Blakers’ images show a barge presumed to aid in ferrying all-terrain vehicles to the restricted area.
They also depict four-wheel-drive tracks and an individual who appears to be operating an ATV on the coast.
But the state government says removing the barge is “certainly not on our agenda”.
The publication of Mr Blakers’ photos comes as the government prepares to take a policy of opening up four-wheel-drive tracks on the Tarkine coast to the next state election.
The plan hit a speed-bump in October, when federal Environment Minister Josh Frydenberg ruled that the proposal needed to be assessed under the Environment, Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act.
And yet Mr Blakers’ photos would suggest that people are using the Tarkine coast for recreation in spite of current laws.
Mr Blakers said he had been to the coast twice in the past 12 months and that, on one occasion, a quad-biker hurled verbal abuse at him upon discovering that Mr Blakers was photographing him.
“When I see four-wheel-drives driving down the coast, that breaks my heart because … [it] changes the character of the place,” Mr Blakers said.
He also said the barge he had photographed had remained at the area in question “for years”.
Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre spokeswoman Sharnie Read said the region was home to middens, burial sites and petroglyphs, among other aspects of indigenous heritage value.
“To stand there and see a four-wheel-drive drive past and know that that practice will destroy aboriginal heritage, therefore the story, the ability for us to pass on our culture, to pass on those stories - that’s more than devastating,” she said.
Wilderness Society spokesman Vica Bayley said the Tarkine coast was also the habitat of the critically endangered hooded plover.
“Four-wheel-drives are known to be a significant problem for this species,” he said.
Deputy Premier Jeremy Rockliff said that while the government “condemned” vandalism of any kind, it strongly believed voters in Braddon supported the proposal to reopen recreational tracks.