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Purnululu National Park

Purnululu National Park

The 239,723 ha Purnululu National Park is located in the State of Western Australia. It contains the deeply dissected Bungle Bungle Range composed of Devonian-age quartz sandstone eroded over a period of 20 million years into a series of beehive-shaped towers or cones, whose steeply sloping surfaces are distinctly marked by regular horizontal bands of dark-grey cyanobacterial crust (single-celled photosynthetic organisms). These outstanding examples of cone karst owe their existence and uniqueness to several interacting geological, biological, erosional and climatic phenomena.

Parc national de Purnululu

Le Parc national de Purnululu (239 723 ha), situé dans l’État d’Australie occidentale, contient le massif très découpé des Bungle Bungle, composé de grès quartzique du dévonien érodé pendant 20 millions d’années. Il en reste un ensemble de tourelles et de cônes en forme de ruches aux flancs abrupts, à la surface striée de bandes horizontales de croûte gris foncé de cyanobactéries (organismes photosynthétiques unicellulaires). Ces exemples exceptionnels de karst à cônes de grès doivent leur existence et leur caractère unique à l’interaction de plusieurs phénomènes géologiques, biologiques, climatiques et de l’érosion.

منتزه بورنولولو الوطني

يشمل منتزه بورنولولو الوطني (239723 هكتارا) الواقع في أوستراليا الغربية سلسلة جبال البانغل بانغل المتراصة والشديدة التقطّع. يتميز المنتزه بتكوينه من الكلس الصوّاني الديفوني المتآكل خلال 20 مليون سنة. وقد بقي منه مجموعة بريجات ومخروطيات على شكل خلايا ذات منحدرات قاسية لها سطح مزيّح أفقياً باللون الرمادي الغامق بالسيانو باكتيريا (الطحالب الزرقاء سابقاً) (جسيمات مثيلية ضوئية أحادية خلية). وتعود أمثلة التضاريس الكلسية الاستثنائية هذه التي تشمل المخروطيات الصلصالية في وجودها وطابعها الفردي إلى تفاعل عدد من الظواهر الجيولوجية والبيولوجية والطقسية والتآكلية.

source: UNESCO/ERI

波奴鲁鲁国家公园

占地面积239 723公顷的波奴鲁鲁国家公园位于西澳大利亚州。公园内有挺拔独立的“嘣咯嘣咯山”(Bungle Bungle Range)。泥盆纪时代的石英砂经过2000万年的侵蚀,形成了蜂巢状塔形和圆锥形山峦。这些山峦的峭壁上是规则的暗灰色水平带,由古代藻青菌(一种能进行光合作用的单细胞生物)沉积而成。这些极具特色的圆锥形喀斯特地貌,是由地质变化、生物影响、侵蚀作用和气候变化等诸多因素之间相互影响而形成的。

source: UNESCO/ERI

Национальный парк Пурнулулу

Парк Пурнулулу, площадью 239,7 тыс. га, располагается на севере штата Западная Австралия, в районе сильно расчлененного хребта Бангл-Бангл, образованного песчаником девонского возраста. За последние 20 млн. лет этот песчаниковый массив под воздействием сил эрозии приобрел вид причудливых конических останцев, островных элементов рельефа. На крутых бортах четко видны темные горизонтальные слои – результат жизнедеятельности цианобактерий. Этот ярчайший пример конического карста возник благодаря редкостному сочетанию геологических, биологических и климатических факторов.

source: UNESCO/ERI

Parque Nacional de Purnululu

Este sitio de 239.723 hectáreas está situado en el Estado de Australia Occidental y comprende el macizo de los Bungle Bungle. Este núcleo montañoso de arenisca cuarzosa, sumamente recortado, data del periodo devónico y ha estado sometido a la erosión durante 20 millones de años. El desgaste ha creado un conjunto de torrecillas y conos en forma de colmenas con flancos de pendiente muy pronunciada, cuya superficie está estriada en bandas horizontales por una capa de color gris oscuro formada por cianobacterias (organismos fotosintéticos unicelulares). Este conjunto kárstico excepcional de conos de arenisca es producto de la interacción de diversos fenómenos geológicos, biológicos, climáticos y erosivos.

source: UNESCO/ERI

パーヌルル国立公園 

source: NFUAJ

Nationaal Park Purnululu

Het Nationaal Park Purnululu is bijna 240.000 hectare groot en ligt in Noordwest-Australië. Onderdeel van het park zijn de diep uitgesneden ‘Bungle bungle’-bergen van kwartszandsteen uit het Devoon-tijdperk. Meer dan 20 miljoen jaar heeft er erosie plaatsgevonden waardoor er bijenkorfachtige kegels zijn ontstaan. Hun steile hellingen worden nadrukkelijk gemarkeerd door regelmatig verdeelde, horizontale, donkergrijze strepen van een korst van cyanobacterieën (een eencellig fotosynthetisch organisme). De dramatisch gebeeldhouwde structuren zijn ongeëvenaard in hun schaal, omvang, grandeur, verscheidenheid van vorm en schoonheid. Zo veranderen de kegels qua kleuren per seizoen en na regen.

Source: unesco.nl

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Outstanding Universal Value

Brief synthesis

Purnululu NationalPark, located in the Kimberley region of Western Australia, covers almost 240,000 hectares of remote area managed as wilderness. It includes the Bungle Bungle Range, a spectacularly incised landscape of sculptured rocks which contains superlative examples of beehive-shaped karst sandstone rising 250 metres above the surrounding semi-arid savannah grasslands. Unique depositional processes and weathering have given these towers their spectacular black and orange banded appearance, formed by biological processes of cyanobacteria (single cell photosynthetic organisms) which serve to stabilise and protect the ancient sandstone formations. These outstanding examples of cone karst that have eroded over a period of 20 million years are of great beauty and exceptional geological interest. 

Criterion (vii): Although Purnululu National Park has not been widely known in Australia until recently and remains relatively inaccessible, it has become recognised internationally for its exceptional natural beauty. The prime scenic attraction is the extraordinary array of banded, beehive-shaped cone towers comprising the Bungle Bungle Range. These have become emblematic of the park and are internationally renowned among Australia's natural attractions. The dramatically sculptured structures, unrivalled in their scale, extent, grandeur and diversity of form anywhere in the world, undergo remarkable daily and seasonal variation in appearance, including striking colour transition following rain and with the positioning of the sun. The intricate maze of towers is accentuated by sinuous, narrow, sheer-sided gorges lined with majestic Livistona fan palms. These and the soaring cliffs up to 250 metres high are cut by seasonal waterfalls and pools, creating the major tourist attractions in the park with evocative names such as Echidna Chasm, Piccaninny and Cathedral Gorges. The diversity of landforms and ecosystems elsewhere in the park are representative of the semi-arid landscape in which Purnululu is located and provide a sympathetic visual buffer for the massif.

 

Criterion (viii): The Bungle Bungles are, by far, the most outstanding example of cone karst in sandstones anywhere in the world and owe their existence and uniqueness to several interacting geological, biological, erosional and climatic phenomena. The sandstone karst of Purnululu National Park is of great scientific importance in demonstrating so clearly the process of cone karst formation on sandstone - a phenomenon recognised by geomorphologists only recently and still not completely understood. The Bungle Bungle Ranges of the Park also display to an exceptional degree evidence of geomorphic processes of dissolution, weathering and erosion in the evolution of landforms under a savannah climatic regime within an ancient, stable sedimentary landscape.

 

Integrity

Purnululu National Park includes the full extent of the Bungle Bungle Range, the World Heritage property’s predominant feature. The Range is well-buffered by protected land on all sides including spinifex- and mulga-dominated sand plains within the Park to the north, south and east. In the west the dominant feature is that of the Osmond Ranges which lie within the adjoining Purnululu Conservation Park (PCP).  These areas were considered sufficient to protect the World Heritage values of the Range with the recommendation that the PCP be incorporated into the Park, and that surrounding pastoral country should also be added to provide better buffering and boundary delimitation. It was noted that the existing park boundaries are not ideal, being mainly water courses rather than watershed boundaries. This could potentially allow incursion of undesirable impacts from neighbouring areas in catchments upstream of the park, such as waste effluent from mining activities.

Since World Heritage listing, extensive areas of land have been added to reserved lands adjacent to the World Heritage property.  This has resulted in the Park being completely surrounded by large areas of conservation land. These reserves include the Western Australian Government’s Purnululu Conservation Park and Ord River Regeneration Reserve. 

The issue of impacts from outside the reserved area is managed by the Australian Government’s Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999, which addresses any potential impact to the property’s World Heritage values. While there were no permanent inhabitants within the property at time of inscription, today there is seasonal occupation by traditional owners in three areas designated as special “Living Area Leases” within the property. Land tenure issues between the Indigenous community (Native Title claims) and the State are in the process of being determined.

Protection and management requirements

Purnululu National Park World Heritage property is public land with secure legal protection and is managed on a day-to-day basis by the Western Australian government. Ranger staff resides within the Park whilst on duty, but the Park is closed during the wet season from December to the beginning of April. 

Land-based access to and within the Park can be difficult because of the remoteness of the area and the Park’s position at the edge of Australia’s monsoonal region.  Infrastructure funding has been used to upgrade the Park’s walking tracks, airstrip and associated helipad. Aerial tours are managed through set flight paths to control noise and facilitate safety. 

Although visitor numbers have steadily risen over time, management measures are sufficient to address potential impacts.  Infrastructure funding has increased with the Park’s World Heritage listing. However, maintaining adequate staffing of the Park can be difficult in this remote area.  In the past grazing by cattle and feral donkeys has been problematic, and at time of inscription wandering stock and other pests were still an issue, requiring cooperation from neighbouring landowners. Invasive alien species such as feral cats and more recently the imminent arrival of cane toads also requires management.

Wildfires, especially now there is greater vegetation cover as the landscape recovers from past over-grazing, are also a major management concern. Measures, including controlled burns in the monsoon season, are in place to manage this threat.

Potential impacts to World Heritage values by mining activities are well-managed through a number of measures. First, mineral exploration and mining are prohibited in the Park by the State Government. Second, while exploration and mining are possible in the neighbouring Purnululu Conservation Park and Ord River Regeneration Reserve, any potential impacts to the World Heritage values are addressed through the Australian Government’s Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act).  

From July 2000, any proposed activity which may have a significant impact on the property became subject to the provisions of the EPBC Act, which regulates actions that will, or are likely to, have a significant impact on World Heritage values. In 2007, Purnululu was added to the National Heritage List, in recognition of its national heritage significance under the Act.

Since inscription, climate change has emerged as an additional potential threat to the World Heritage values, and Australia has introduced a range of measures at both the national and property-specific level to address potential threats.

Australia has reported regularly to the World Heritage Committee on a number of management issues in Purnululu National Park.  These include the addition of reserve land to further buffer the Park, measures to ensure that any mining outside the Park is suitably managed to avoid impacts to World Heritage values, management of alien invasive species and funding for staffing and infrastructure for the Park.

Long Description

Purnululu National Park is located in the East Kimberley Region of Western Australia located 300 km by road south of Kununurra in Western Australia's Ord Region; the listed area is almost 240,000 ha. There is an adjacent buffer zone to the north and west (the Purnululu Conservation Zone) of approximately 79,600 ha, which is not part of the nominated area. The park comprises four major ecosystems: the Bungle Bungle Mountain Range, a deeply dissected plateau that dominates the centre of the park; wide sand plains surrounding the Bungle Bungles; the Ord River valley to the east and south of the park; and limestone ridges and ranges to the west and north of the park.

The Bungle Bungle Mountains are an unusual and very dramatic plateau of Devonian quartz sandstone, created through a complex process of sedimentation, compaction, uplift (caused by the collision of Gondwanaland and Laurasia approximately 300 million years ago and the convergence of the Indo-Australian Plate and the Pacific Plate 20 million years ago), as well as long periods of erosion. The Bungle Bungle landscape comprises a mass of beehive-shaped towers with regularly alternating, dark grey bands of cynobacterial crust (single-cell photosynthetic organisms). The plateau is dissected by 100-200 m deep, sheer-sided gorges. The cone-towers are steep-sided, with an abrupt break of slope at the base and have domed summits. Their surface is fragile but stabilized by crusts of iron oxide and bacteria. They provide an outstanding example of land formation by dissolutional weathering of sandstone, with removal of sand grains by wind, rain and sheet wash on slopes.

The Bungle Bungle Range is one of the most extensive and impressive occurrences of sandstone tower karst in the world

The grassy Ord River valley on the east and south of the park is deeply incised as a result of crustal uplifting during relatively recent geological times. The wide sand plains between the uplands and the river are composed of infertile black soil covered with grassland and scattered trees. The limestone ridges to the west and Osmand Range to the north are better wooded, especially in the forested Osmand Creek valley. These rocks are believed to be of Cambrian age (550-500 million years old). There are stromatolites in the Osmand range.

Purnululu also has a rich Aboriginal cultural heritage spanning over some 20,000 years. The park provides exceptional testimony to this hunter-gatherer cultural tradition, which has survived to the present day despite the impact of colonization.

Source: UNESCO/CLT/WHC
Historical Description

Human activity in the area has occurred over some 40,000 years. Radiocarbon dating places the earliest known occupation of the Ord valley, downstream of the Park, some 20,000 years ago. Long-term use of the area is suggested by a plentiful archaeology, as yet incompletely discovered.

The first survey of the area was in July 1879. The first colonists arrived in the Middle Ord region in the mid- 1880s. Gold was discovered 1885 but stock raising became the main activity. ‘By June 1884 the first mob of 4,000 cattle were brought into the Ord River grasslands…’ 6,000 followed the following year. By 1902 there were some 47,000 cattle.

Overstocking of cattle, which led to over-grazing ‘set in train the destructive process of massive landscape erosion’, a process which saw the Aboriginal population involved in unpaid seasonal labour on pastoral stations, while their natural food resources were diminished. The indigenous population decreased by perhaps as much as 50%.

Form 1967 procedures to reverse this process were started. Control of stock and re-vegetation programmes were put in place and the 1968 Pastoral Award stopped the abuse of Aboriginal labour. However, in moving people out of the cattle stations, the measures helped create new living sites – ‘humpies’ – which came to be characterised by social deprivation.

‘From around 1985 onwards large numbers of cattle and donkeys (25,000 and 4,000 respectively)’ were removed to reduce overgrazing still further. The National Park was created in 1987, when the area became uninhabited. The same year saw the start of a programme of protective burning to reduce wildfire and create mosaics of vegetation. By the mid-nineties, tourism had become a local feature, despite the difficulties of access, with ground-based visitors numbering ca 20,000 p.a. and perhaps the same number overflying the Park each year.

In spite of more than a 100 years of outside intervention, and the resulting severe changes in the landscape and in social structures, it is claimed in the nomination that Aboriginal people who live near Purnululu still retain communal memories of traditional land management practices, and of Ngarrangkarni associations, and still use the landscape for harvesting wild food and for social gatherings.

Source: Advisory Body Evaluation