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The Spiritual Values of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area
thesisposted on 2023-05-26, 14:27 authored by Ashley, PL
Are wilderness areas more than just a recreational opportunity, tourist destination or objects of scientific curiosity? People may well be attracted to wild nature in pursuit of deeper meanings other than by these examples of visitor motivations. Representing a benchmark in Australia, if not internationally, the aim of this exploratory research was to develop a greater understanding of the spiritual values of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area, and their relevance to wilderness management processes. The work has a pragmatic intent, with results intended to assist future management planning and operational decisions in Tasmania, and inform wilderness management practices in other wilderness areas and jurisdictions more generally. The aim was achieved by a questionnaire survey sent to random samples of the general public and members of The Wilderness Society in Tasmania, and to staff of the Tasmanian Parks and Wildlife Service involved with management of the Tasmanian wilderness. A variety of statistical analyses, including Pearson product-moment correlation, stepwise regression, and factor analysis were conducted on the data to examine and test the relationships between all of respondents’ underlying general spirituality, wilderness spirituality, attitudes to solitude, and answers to various management related questions. Content analysis of the meanings of wilderness spirituality and scene analysis of wilderness photographs complemented the quantitative techniques. The results show wilderness spirituality to be different to spirituality in general, and unequivocally demonstrate for the first time, the existence and importance of the spiritual value of the Tasmanian wilderness. The research also identifies the landscape elements contributing to a spiritual experience, describes the defining characteristics of wilderness spirituality, confirms the important role that solitude and peace and quiet plays in the wilderness experience, and suggests that conservationists are more disposed to wilderness spirituality than the general public and wilderness managers. Respondents’ disposition to spirituality in general was found to be the main determinant of their wilderness spirituality. In the absence of an established literature on the operationalisation of spiritual values of wilderness into field management frameworks and management plans, recommendations are presented for consideration by the Tasmanian Parks and Wildlife Service to maintain and improve the spiritual values of the Tasmanian wilderness. The research will assist managers to take better account of spiritual values through the preservation of wilderness and maintaining the wilderness character that contribute to spiritual experiences. While the results and recommendations are derived from the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area, they can also be used to inform wilderness management elsewhere. Theoretical and methodological contributions include the assignment of wilderness spirituality among forms of spirituality, identification of the defining characteristics of wilderness spirituality, measurement of wilderness spirituality, and advancing the use of photo-elicitation.
Department/SchoolSchool of Geography, Planning and Spatial Sciences
PublisherUniversity of Tasmania