Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts logo
Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts home page

Archived media releases and speeches


Much of the material listed on these archived web pages has been superseded, or served a particular purpose at a particular time. It may contain references to activities or policies that have no current application. Many archived documents may link to web pages that have moved or no longer exist, or may refer to other documents that are no longer available.

Media Release
Senator the Hon Robert Hill
Leader of the Government in the Senate
Minister for the Environment

Wild Rivers a Mainstream Issue

September 4, 1996

Federal Environment Minister Robert Hill has released the results of a new survey which indicates the strong attachment between the Australian people and our nation's wilderness and wild rivers.

The survey, commissioned by the Australian Heritage Commission (AHC), confirms that the overwhelming majority of Australians want to see action to conserve our wilderness and wild rivers.

Senator Hill says the survey confirms the importance of our natural heritage to the Australian people.

"Ninety nine per cent of people surveyed believe that wilderness should be conserved, while ninety seven per cent support the conservation of wild rivers.

"Ninety eight per cent of those interviewed consider that there is a duty to conserve wilderness for future generations, while eighty seven per cent believe that wilderness should be conserved for its own sake,

"Australians surveyed believe wilderness and wild rivers should be conserved to help maintain the variety of plant and animal species."

Senator Hill says a majority of respondents considered that Australia was not conserving enough wilderness and wild river areas.

"The $1 billion Natural Heritage Trust will provide the long term funding base for building the national reserve system and for protecting wilderness and wild rivers,"

Senator Hill says the results also indicate Australia respect the cultural association of Aboriginal people with 'wilderness'.

"A majority of respondents considered indigenous people should be consulted on wilderness issues.

"Through the Commission's work we will ensure that indigenous perspectives are recognised and included in assessment and advice on wilderness Issues"

Senator Hill says the survey and its results form part of the AHC's Wild Rivers and wilderness projects.

Contacts: Senator Hill's Office, Matt Brown (06) 277-7640

Jane Morrison, Australian Heritage Commission (06) 217-2170

Highlights of Wilderness and Wild Rivers Research Results

Survey respondents (1059) were asked to say whether they agreed or disagreed with statements about wilderness and wild rivers (those rivers which remain largely undisturbed), The following are some of the highlights of these results set out in the table and drawn from Wilderness and Wild Rivers Research, prepared by Roy Morgan Research for the Australian Heritage Commission:

Values of wilderness areas and wild rivers recognised by Australians

People's views on Statements relating to the values of Wilderness Areas


Base: All respondents (I,059)

'Wilderness areas should be conserved for their own sake not because, people want to use them' 86 11
'Wilderness areas can be a great source of inspiration' 92 3
'Wilderness areas can contribute a lot to scientific studies' 92 4
'Wilderness areas offer great opportunities for recreational activities' 60 32
'We have a duty to future generations to conserve wilderness' 98 2
'We can afford to lose a few wilderness areas' 18 77
'Economic development is more important than conserving
wilderness areas'
12 80
'Wilderness areas are of special importance to Aboriginal people' 56 30
'We need wilderness areas to help maintain the variety of plant and animal species' 98 1
'We should keep some wilderness areas free from roads at all costs' 85 12
'It is important to spend public money on wilderness areas even if they are seldom visited' 72 21
'Wilderness areas should be made easily. accessible' 39 54

Source: Table 7: ,Wilderness and Wild Rivers Research, prepared for the Australian Heritage Commission, Roy Morgan Research, Canberra. July 1996.

Extent to which Australians feel wilderness areas and wild rivers need to be conserved

Appropriate and inappropriate activities for wilderness areas

-Bushwalking (90% of respondents)

-Aboriginal people living in or using wilderness areas where they have traditional links (83% of respondents)

-Introduction of roads and tracks (85%)

-Mining (82% o[ respondents)

-Four-wheel driving (81% of respondents)

-Building tourist accommodation in wilderness areas (71% of respondents)

In addition to these activities, focus group participants thought that the following activities were inappropriate:

- gazing access for cattle, damaging impacts of deer, pigs and goats

-use of trail bikes in wilderness areas because of the damage they do, and

-powerboats on wild rivers because of pollution and damage to river banks.

Indigenous Association with Wilderness Areas

Extent to which the Marine Environment is regarded as wilderness

Seventy three percent of survey respondents thought of the sea and the marine environment as being wilderness.

Conducted by Roy Morgan Research, on behalf of the Australian Heritage Commission during May/June 1996, the study was undertaken primarily to find out Australians' views of 'wilderness' and 'wild rivers'. Results were obtained from a series of four focus groups, held in metropolitan and rural areas, and a computer assisted telephone survey undertaken of a national random sample of 1059 adults.

Commonwealth of Australia