For my first zachofjungle.com interview, I decided to go to a place and a magazine most Americans are pretty clueless about. Y.D. Bar-Ness is the editor and founder of Tasmanian Geographic. Tasmanian Geographic has previously published an article I wrote about commercial paleontology. Since spending a month and a half travelling and WWOOFing on the island a few years ago, I’ve only grown to love Tasmania more from afar through reading. I decided to interview Y.D. Bar-Ness to learn more about Tasmanian Geographic, Bar-Ness’s own outdoor exploration and recreation and his unique views on Tasmania and environmentalism.
What are some common misconceptions people have about Tasmania? What should people know about the island?
The most common misconceptions is a very lazy mistake with Tanzania. I’m sure there’s many islands in the world that I don’t know much about, but both Tanzania and Tasmania are relatively vast areas of land.
You could think of Tasmania as the West Island of New Zealand, and you wouldn’t be conceptually too far off.
What do you love about Tasmania? What makes it special to you and what lead you to be editor of a magazine devoted to the nature of Tasmania? How did Tasmanian Geographic come to be?
It’s a special little island in a strange corner of the world. I started Tasmanian Geographic and so therefore being the editor is a self-appointed position. I had been writing for a number of publications and creating maps and outreach materials, and this seemed like a nice project to do some good in the world.
As editor, what goals do you have for Tasmanian Geographic?
The idea is to have the more specialised enthusiasms – embroidery, Irish history – bundled alongside the climbers, walkers, photographers etc in a package that makes them all look good.
Do you consider yourself an environmentalist/conservationist? If so what unique problems does environmentalism have on Tasmania specifically and islands in general?
Undoubtedly. Tasmania is at once light-years ahead and behind other parts of the world. There is a very strong conservation ethic here that has prompted the rise of the Green political movement and the discipline of permaculture. But there is also an often-poorly performing economy and the well-intentioned but sometimes rushed government efforts to “open” wildlands for business.
What dangers does Tasmania face that are unique to it and what obstacles does it have in common with the rest of the world?
The island itself as a geographical entity is like all coastal areas threatened by sea level rises, but overall the human threats to the island are forest clearing, wildfires exacerbated by the eucalyptus forests, and decreasing water supplies with declining snowfall and landscape vegetation.
What outdoor activities does Tasmania have to offer and what are your favorites?
It’s pretty much all here – Tasmania is a world capital for outdoor exploration. The snow is in serious decline due to climate change, but there’s kayaking, caving, canyoning, rafting, mountaineering, orienteering, bushwalking/hiking, and many many other activities.
I know you climb trees. Would you tell us a little about that; how did you get started climbing trees, what’s involved and what types of trees does Tasmania offer for climbing? How does tree climbing change how you see forests and trees? Why climb trees?
I began treeclimbing as a research intern at uni in Seattle. Tasmania has some very interesting forest types, but the most famous of the trees here are the giant Eucalyptus regnans, the tallest flowering plants in the world. Working in the treetops gives you a good sense of a tree as an unique individual, and as a unique place.
What are some of your favorite places in Tasmania and why?
The strange conglomerate rocks and crater lakes of Mt Murchison in the northwest, the limestone caves with their glowworms in the far south at Lune River, the giant forest of massive Eucalyptus on the Huon River, and of course the sandstone overhangs and caves of southeastern quadrant.
For more about Tasmania, Y.D. Bar-Ness and his exciting ezine visit Tasmanian Geographic