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Kakadu National Park

Kakadu National Park

This unique archaeological and ethnological reserve, located in the Northern Territory, has been inhabited continuously for more than 40,000 years. The cave paintings, rock carvings and archaeological sites record the skills and way of life of the region’s inhabitants, from the hunter-gatherers of prehistoric times to the Aboriginal people still living there. It is a unique example of a complex of ecosystems, including tidal flats, floodplains, lowlands and plateaux, and provides a habitat for a wide range of rare or endemic species of plants and animals.

Parc national de Kakadu

Le parc constitue une réserve archéologique et ethnologique unique au monde car les terres sur lesquelles il s’étend ont été habitées en permanence depuis 40 000 ans. Des vestiges provenant des chasseurs et des pêcheurs du néolithique jusqu’aux aborigènes qui l’habitent encore au XXe siècle, il présente une histoire des techniques et des comportements illustrée par des peintures et des pictogrammes. C’est le meilleur exemple d’un ensemble d’écosystèmes, depuis les laisses intertidales jusqu’aux plateaux, en passant par les plaines inondées et les basses terres, habitats d’un grand nombre d’espèces rares ou endémiques de la flore et de la faune.

منتزه كاكادو الوطني

يشكّل المنتزه هذا محمية أثرية وإثنولوجية فريدة من نوعها في العالم لأن الأراضي التي يمتد عليها لطالما كانت مسكونة منذ 40000 عام. ويعرض المنتزه، بالآثار الباقية من صيادي الطيور والأسماك والتي تعود إلى العصر الحجري الحديث مروراً بالسكان الأصليين الذين بقوا يقطنونه حتى القرن العشرين، قصة تقنيات وسلوكيات انكبّ عليها الرسامون واختصاصيو الرسوم التصويرية. إنه أفضل مثال على مجموعة الأنظمة البيئية الممتدة من أراضي المد والجزر إلى السفوح مروراً بالسهول الفائضة والأراضي الواطئة وهي مساكن عدد كبير من الأجناس النادرة أو المستوطنة من النبات والحيوان.

source: UNESCO/ERI

卡卡杜国家公园

这是独一无二的考古和人种保护区,位于澳大利亚北领地州,四万多年以来,一直有人类在此居住。这里的石洞壁画、石刻以及考古遗址完整记录了该地区人民的生活技能和生活方式,包括从史前狩猎采集者到如今仍在此生息的土著居民。这里还是各种生态系统共存的一个特例,包括潮坪、漫滩、低地和高原,为当地大量的珍稀动植物提供了栖息之地。

source: UNESCO/ERI

Национальный парк Какаду

Этот район Северной Территории Австралии, где ныне располагается уникальный археологический и этнографический резерват, был заселен более 40 тыс. лет назад. Археологические находки и наскальные рисунки иллюстрируют жизнедеятельность коренных жителей: от доисторического сообщества охотников-собирателей до аборигенов, живущих здесь в наше время. Парк включает уникальное сочетание природных комплексов (включая водно-болотные угодья, заливаемые во время морских приливов, холмистые равнины и плато), которые служат местообитанием для множества редких и эндемических видов растений и животных.

source: UNESCO/ERI

Parque Nacional de Kakadu

Ubicado en el territorio norte de Australia, este parque es una reserva arqueológica y etnológica única en el mundo, porque su territorio ha sido habitado por el hombre durante más de 40.000 años sin interrupción. Las pinturas y pictogramas hallados en este sitio ilustran la historia de las técnicas y del género de vida de sus sucesivas poblaciones, desde los cazadores-recolectores del Neolítico hasta los aborígenes que aún lo pueblan actualmente. Además, el parque es también un ejemplo único en su género por el conjunto de ecosistemas –costas bajas arenosas, mesetas, planicies inundadas y tierras bajas– que son el hábitat de un gran número de especies endémicas de plantas y animales.

source: UNESCO/ERI

カカドゥ国立公園

source: NFUAJ

Nationaal Park Kakadu

Het Noordelijk Territorium van Australië wordt al meer dan 40.000 jaar continu bewoond. De grotschilderingen, rotstekeningen en archeologische vindplaatsen laten de vaardigheden en de manier van leven zien van de bewoners in de regio's van het park. Van de jagers-verzamelaars uit de prehistorie tot de Aboriginals die er vandaag de dag nog steeds wonen. Het Nationaal park Kakadu is een uniek voorbeeld van een stelsel van verschillende ecosystemen bestaand uit wadden, uiterwaarden, laaglanden en plateaus. Het park is daarnaast de habitat voor een groot aantal zeldzame of inheemse plant- en diersoorten.

Source: unesco.nl

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Kakadu National Park © Silvan Rehfeld
Outstanding Universal Value

Brief synthesis

Kakadu National Park is a living cultural landscape with exceptional natural and cultural values. Kakadu has been home to Aboriginal people for more than 50,000 years, and many of the park’s extensive rock art sites date back thousands of years. Kakadu’s rock art provides a window into human civilisation in the days before the last ice age. Detailed paintings reveal insights into hunting and gathering practices, social structure and ritual ceremonies of Indigenous societies from the Pleistocene Epoch until the present.

The largest national park in Australia and one of the largest in the world’s tropics, Kakadu preserves the greatest variety of ecosystems on the Australian continent including extensive areas of savanna woodlands, open forest, floodplains, mangroves, tidal mudflats, coastal areas and monsoon forests. The park also has a huge diversity of flora and is one of the least impacted areas of the northern part of the Australian continent. Its spectacular scenery includes landscapes of arresting beauty, with escarpments up to 330 metres high extending in a jagged and unbroken line for hundreds of kilometres.

The hunting-and-gathering tradition demonstrated in the art and archaeological record is a living anthropological tradition that continues today, which is rare for hunting-and-gathering societies worldwide. Australian and global comparisons indicate that the large number and diversity of features of anthropological, art and archaeological sites (many of which include all three site types), and the quality of preservation, is exceptional.

Many of the art and archaeological sites of the park are thousands of years old, showing a continuous temporal span of the hunting and gathering tradition from the Pleistocene Era until the present. While these sites exhibit great diversity, both in space and through time, the overwhelming picture is also one of a continuous cultural development.

Criterion (i) : Kakadu’s art sites represent a unique artistic achievement because of the wide range of styles used, the large number and density of sites and the delicate and detailed depiction of a wide range of human figures and identifiable animal species, including animals long-extinct.

Criterion (vi) : The rock art and archaeological record is an exceptional source of evidence for social and ritual activities associated with hunting and gathering traditions of Aboriginal people from the Pleistocene era until the present day.

Criterion (vii) : Kakadu National Park contains a remarkable contrast between the internationally recognised Ramsar–listed wetlands and the spectacular rocky escarpment and its outliers. The vast expanse of wetlands to the north of the park extends over tens of kilometres and provides habitat for millions of waterbirds. The escarpment consists of vertical and stepped cliff faces up to 330 metres high and extends in a jagged and unbroken line for hundreds of kilometres. The plateau areas behind the escarpment are inaccessible by vehicle and contain large areas with no human infrastructure and limited public access. The views from the plateau are breathtaking.

Criterion (ix) : The property incorporates significant elements of four major river systems of tropical Australia. Kakadu’s ancient escarpment and stone country span more than two billion years of geological history, whereas the floodplains are recent, dynamic environments, shaped by changing sea levels and big floods every wet season. These floodplains illustrate the ecological and geomorphological effects that have accompanied Holocene climate change and sea level rise.

The Kakadu region has had relatively little impact from European settlement, in comparison with much of the Australian continent. With extensive and relatively unmodified natural vegetation and largely intact faunal composition, the park provides a unique opportunity to investigate large-scale evolutionary processes in a relatively intact landscape.

Kakadu’s indigenous communities and their myriad rock art and archaeological sites represent an outstanding example of humankind’s interaction with the natural environment.

Criterion (x) : The park is unique in protecting almost the entire catchment of a large tropical river and has one of the widest ranges of habitats and greatest number of species documented of any comparable area in tropical northern Australia. Kakadu’s large size, diversity of habitats and limited impact from European settlement has resulted in the protection and conservation of many significant habitats and species.

The property protects an extraordinary number of plant and animal species including over one third of Australia’s bird species, one quarter of Australia’s land mammals and an exceptionally high number of reptile, frog and fish species. Huge concentrations of waterbirds make seasonal use of the park’s extensive coastal floodplains.

Integrity

The property encompasses all the natural and cultural attributes necessary to convey its outstanding universal value. The joint management regime in place with Kakadu’s Indigenous owners, including consideration of grazing and the development of a controlled burning and management policy, significant research and monitoring activities, and a strong visitor education programme are essential to the maintenance of the integrity of the property. The rock art and archaeological sites are not under threat.

The natural attributes of the property are in good condition, with pressures from adjacent land uses, invasive species and tourism needing ongoing attention.  Some past land degradation from small-scale mining and over-stocking that occurred in the area that was included in the property in 1992 has been addressed through restoration measures.

As is the case for many protected areas, the straight-line boundaries of Kakadu are artificial ones.  They relate to a long history of administrative land use decisions with the Northern Territory Government and the Arnhem Land aboriginal reservation.  Although the South Alligator River drainage basin is contained within the park, headwaters of other rivers lie outside.  The boundaries are adequate, although in an ideal world, ecological/hydrological criteria would allow a different configuration and might also include the drainage basin of the East Alligator River in Arnhem Land which would add additional values and integrity to Kakadu.  There are also important natural values in the Cobourg Peninsula and in some of the coastal wetlands to the west of the park.

There are mining interests adjacent to the property, and the long-term aspects of waste disposal and eventual recovery required ongoing attention and scrutiny.  In addition to the uranium mine at Ranger, which is excised from the property, there is one other excised lease at Jabiluka which is located close to an important floodplain inside the park.  A third previously excised area at Koongarra was incorporated into the property in 2011, at the request of the State Party and the Traditional Owner. 

Authenticity

Large areas of Kakadu are virtually inaccessible to people other than the Indigenous traditional owners, and the Indigenous and non-Indigenous national park managers. Cultural sites are therefore subject to little interference. The Indigenous community, in conjunction with the national park managers, has developed a range of programs to manage any possible threats from weathering and/or damage to anthropological, art and archaeological sites.

Protection and management requirements

The property is well protected by legislation and is co-managed with the Aboriginal traditional owners, which is an essential aspect of the management system. The Director of National Parks performs functions and exercises powers under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (the Act) in accordance with the park’s management plan and relevant decisions of the Kakadu National Park Board of Management. A majority of Board members represent the park’s traditional owners. These arrangements ensure that the park has effective legal protection, a sound planning framework and that management issues are addressed.

The Act protects all World Heritage properties in Australia and is the statutory instrument for implementing Australia’s obligations under the World Heritage Convention. It aims to protect the values of the World Heritage properties, including from impacts originating outside the property. By law, any action that has, will have, or is likely to have, a significant impact on the values of the World Heritage property, must be referred to the responsible Minister for consideration. Penalties apply for taking such an action without approval, and the Act has been tested in court in relation to protection of the values of World Heritage properties. Once a heritage place is listed, the Act provides for the preparation of management plans which set out the significant heritage aspects of the place and how the values of the site will be managed. In 2007, Kakadu was added to the National Heritage List, in recognition of its national heritage significance under the Act.

The quality of the park’s management and protection has been widely recognised. Key management issues that have been identified include:

·         Tourism – significant increase in visitation as a result of its World Heritage inscription. Visitors are encouraged to enjoy the park in ways that do not adversely affect its natural and cultural values;

·         Mining – management of abandoned small-scale uranium mining sites and monitoring the existing Ranger mine lease. A rehabilitation program has been completed to reduce the physical and radiological hazards of old mine sites. The future potential effects on the park of current uranium mining will require ongoing scrutiny;

·         Cultural sites – work to conserve rock art sites in the face of natural and chemical weathering from increasing age and damage from water, vegetation, mud-building wasps, termites, feral animals and humans;

·         Introduced flora – ongoing management to control and prevent the spread of introduced weeds (particularly Mimosa pigra and Salvinia molesta); and

·         Introduced fauna – removal of Asian water buffalo and the resulting restoration of affected ecosystems.

Since the 1991 nomination, additional threats to World Heritage values have emerged, including:

Climate change – saltwater incursions into freshwater ecosystems, changing fire seasons and regimes and an increased potential for spread of exotic flora and fauna. Park managers are implementing a climate change strategy for the park that recommends a range of adaptation, mitigation and communication actions to manage the anticipated consequences of climate change;

Decline of small mammals across northern Australia – the causes of decline are unclear however initial theories suggest fire management regimes, feral cats and introduction of disease as the likely causes; and

Cane Toads – rapid colonisation by cane toads. Monitoring programmes are in place to determine cane toad distribution and the impacts on native wildlife within different habitats of the park. There are no known methods to manage populations of cane toads over large areas; however the Australian Government is undertaking research into potential control and adaptation options.

Long Description

This unique archaeological and ethnological reserve has been inhabited continuously for more than 40,000 years. The cave paintings, rock carvings and archaeological sites record the skills and way of life of the region's inhabitants, from the hunter-gatherers of prehistoric times to the Aboriginal people still living there. It is a unique example of a complex of ecosystems, including tidal flats, floodplains, lowlands and plateaux, and provides a habitat for a wide range of rare or endemic plant and animal species.

The park comprises four major landforms: Arnhem land plateau and escarpment complex; southern hills and basins; Koolpinyah surface; and coastal riverine plains. The western rim of the Arnhem land plateau comprises escarpments ranging in height from about 30-330 m over a distance of some 500 km. In addition to the four major landforms, almost 500 km2 of intertidal and estuarine areas and two islands lie within the park. The tropical monsoonal climate, with its marked wet and dry seasons, is the major factor determining the surface water hydrology, vegetation and, over time, the landforms of the park region.

The vegetation can be classified into 13 broad categories, seven of which are dominated by a distinct species of Eucalyptus . Other categories comprise mangrove; samphire; lowland rainforest; paper bark swamp; seasonal flood plain and sandstone rainforest. Floristically it is the most diverse and most natural area of northern Australia with 46 species of plant considered rare or threatened, and nine restricted to the park.

Because of its diversity of land systems from marine and coastal habitats (which support substantial turtle and dugong populations) through to the arid sandstone escarpment, Kakadu is one of the world's richest wildlife parks. One-third of Australia's bird species and one quarter of its freshwater and estuarine fish species species are found in Kakadu. Huge concentrations of waterbirds (2.5 million) make seasonal use of the floodplains of the park and there are a diversity of invertebrates including 55 species of termite and 200 species of ant (10% of the total world number) as well as a wide diversity of small mammals. It also contains the most important breeding habitat in the world for the saltwater crocodile and the pig-nosed turtle - both threatened reptiles.

All the major landforms are incorporated in the park, which therefore provides an outstanding example of both ancient and recent geological changes to the continent. The park also contains many examples of relict species and species that represent the various periods of the biological evolution of the Australian fauna. The coastal rivers and flood plains illustrate the ecological effects of sea-level change in this part of Australia, as such; the park provides a special opportunity to investigate large-scale evolutionary processes in an intact landscape.

The region has been little affected by European settlement, in comparison with the remainder of the continent, hence the natural vegetation remains extensive in area and relatively unmodified, and its faunal composition is largely intact. Approximately 300 Aboriginal people reside in the park, including traditional owners and Aboriginals with recognized social and traditional attachments to the area. The park contains many Aboriginal archaeological, sacred and art sites.

Source: UNESCO/CLT/WHC
Historical Description

The Kakadu National Park is of the highest interest as an extensive archaeological and ethnological reservation. The first remains of human occupation in Australia, dating from nearly 40.000 years ago, have been identified there. On various sites, excavations have brought to light groups of stone tools, which, because of the axes of polished stone they include, are counted among the oldest in the world; further, in conjunction with the sites of rock paintings, workshops for preparing pigments have been studied which date back at least 18,000 years.

It is, of course, the aboriginal rock paintings of Kakadu which constituted the decisive argument for the inscription of this cultural property on the World Heritage List in 1981. based on cultural Criteria I, iii, and iv.

These paintings, executed in the open on rock walls, cover a long chronological span, since the oldest date back nearly 20,000 years and the most recent are from contemporary times.

For the historian, they constitute a fund of documentary evidence of primordial importance and a source which is unique. In fact, they serve as a source of information on the primal resources, the hunting and fishing activities, the social structure, and the ritual ceremonies of the aboriginal population which have succeeded one another on the site of Kakadu. They bear witness to vanished species. such as the Tasmanian wolf, and allow one to follow, in the details of equipment and of costume, the modifications brought to bear on traditional life by the contacts which were established with Macanese fishermen from the 16th century, and then with Europeans.

For the art historian, the ensemble of paintings and pictograms of Kakadu is unique to the extent that it combines multiple figurative and nonfigurative styles, which vary in their apparent chronology with those ensembles, recently inventoried, in southern Africa and in the Sahara. An aesthetic, peculiar to representations of animals and humans in Arnhem Land, may have, moreover, had an influence on graphic forms which appeared after 1930.

For the ethnologist, Kakadu offers a privileged field of exploration and observation, as the Aborigines who continue to inhabit this site contribute to the maintenance of the balance of the ecosystem and. through traditional techniques, ensure the necessary preservation of the most recent rock paintings. The social - if not the ritual - function of these is preserved to a certain extent.

Source: Advisory Body Evaluation