The area is one of the largest conservation areas in Australia, covering 15,800 km², or almost 20% of Tasmania after extensions in 1989 and 2013. It constitutes one of the last expanses of temperate wilderness in the world, and includes the South West Wilderness.
The Tasmanian Wilderness, a network of parks and reserves with steep gorges, underwent severe glaciation. Human remains dating back more than 20,000 years have been found in limestone caves in the area.
In 2014, the Abbott Government proposed de-listing the Tasmanian Wilderness as a World Heritage Site so as to allow the logging of trees within the protected area. If successful, the proposal would have marked the first time a developed nation had de-listed a site for economic purposes. The proposal was rejected by the 38th Session of the World Heritage Committee in June 2014, which met in Doha, Qatar. The Abbott Government has since stated it intends to respect the decision of the committee. Other controversial environment related projects spearheaded by the Abbott Government include the Great Barrier Reef dredging project. 
^Russell, J. A. (James Alexander); Matthews, J. H; Jones, Richard, 1936-1986; University of Tasmania. Board of Environmental Studies (1979), Wilderness in Tasmania, Board of Environmental Studies, University of Tasmania, ISBN978-0-85901-120-4