1.         Tasmanian Wilderness (Australia) (C/N 181quinquies)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  1982

Criteria  (iii)(iv)(vi)(vii)(viii)(ix)(x)

Year(s) of inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger  N/A

Previous Committee Decisions  see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/181/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0
Total amount approved: USD 0
For details, see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/181/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds

N/A

Previous monitoring missions

March 2008: joint World Heritage Centre/IUCN/ICOMOS reactive monitoring mission.

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

Illustrative material  see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/181/

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2012

On 1 February 2012 the State Party submitted a report on the state of conservation of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area (TWWHA). This report provides detailed information on a number of nature conservation issues, including the management of adjoining forestry operations, the status of mineral licenses and rehabilitation, as well as climate change, the status of the Orange-bellied parrot and biosecurity concerns. It also provides information on resources for Aboriginal cultural heritage, and the re-formation of the property consultative committee.

a) Ongoing forestry operations adjacent to the property

The State Party’s report provides details on the implementation of the Committee’s request to create a mechanism to monitor, assess and manage the impact of forestry operations, road construction and regeneration on the integrity of TWWHA, and adjoining reserves, involving all relevant stakeholders (see 32 COM 7B.41, 34 COM 7B.38). In particular, the State Party highlights its commitment to ensure that significant iconic areas adjacent to TWWHA are given interim protection from logging activities, while an independent verification process is undertaken to assess the values of these areas, including the Upper Florentine, and areas within the Styx, Huon, Picton and Counsel River Valleys. This commitment is reflected in the revised Tasmanian Forests Intergovernmental Agreement (TFIA), approved in 2011. The State Party notes that following verification, the Tasmanian Government will provide legislative protection to areas that are identified as being of conservation value. It is intended to provide this protection through appropriate forms of land tenure, which may possibly include nomination of appropriate areas for inclusion in the property.

The State Party considers that the TFIA is an appropriate mechanism for the conservation and sustainable management of public native forests, including those adjoining the property, and that the forestry management system addresses potential adverse impacts from forestry operations adjoining the property, e.g. through the application of the Tasmanian Forest Practices Code. Issues related to the property’s integrity are monitored and reported via the State of Tasmanian World Heritage Area Report. The State Party notes that the revision of this report in 2014 is intended to feed into the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Management Plan reviewin 2015, which will be undertaken in consultation with all stakeholders including the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Consultative Committee.

The World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies would like to add that an Australian Senator submitted a letter to the Chair of the World Heritage Committee on 14 February 2012. This letter provides a detailed list of 18 logging coupes in forests reserves adjoining the property (totaling approximately 580-820 ha) that are exempt from interim protection, i.e. logging is permitted. These coupes are listed as exempt under the commitment made under the Tasmanian Forests Intergovernmental Agreement in August 2011. Areas affected include the Styx, Huon, Picton and Counsel Areas. This matter was raised before the Australian Parliament in February 2012 and a number of these coupes have been partially logged or are scheduled for exploitation in 2012.

b) Mineral exploration, exploitation and rehabilitation

The State Party reaffirms its agreement that mining is not appropriate in World Heritage properties and reports that mining issues have been resolved, and all remaining leases voluntarily relinquished. The State Party also reports that it has submitted a minor boundary modification proposal to incorporate the Southwest Conservation Area (Melaleuca-Cox Bright) within the property now that the Adamsfield mining licenses have expired. This completes the State Party’s 2010 extension proposal. The details of this proposal are discussed in document WHC-12/36.COM/8B.Add. The State Party is planning to rehabilitate the mining sites in the Southwest Conservation Area, and to exclude this area from the Tasmanian Mineral Resources Development Act 1995 in order to preclude the granting of any future mineral licenses. IUCN notes that it has received reports of a mining proposal in the Tarkine Area outside the property’s boundaries, and that it is unclear whether this area has been granted interim protection under the Tasmanian Forests Intergovernmental Agreement. The World Heritage Centre and IUCN consider that the Committee should request clarifications on these points.

c) Other nature conservation issues

The State Party reports on a number of other nature conservation issues, including climate change, the status of the Orange-bellied Parrot, biosecurity and introduced species, the restoration of Lake Fidler, the Basslink undersea cable, and proposals for tourism development at Lake St Clair.

Of these issues, climate change remains a long-term threat to the property and the State Party reports that a 10 year program to monitor it impacts on flora values has been developed to inform management actions (a similar assessment for fauna remains a priority). The State Party notes that the Orange-bellied Parrot, which forms part of the property’s OUV, is critically endangered and, without successful intervention, is likely to be extinct in the wild by 2015. It is hoped that the implementation of the 2010 Action Plan for this species will slow its decline and support its recovery. Lastly, the State Party reports that the biosecurity issues affecting Tasmania may threaten the property. A program was established in 2011 to reduce the spread of invasive pathogens and introduced species, including the devil face tumor disease, which may be spreading into the property through the construction of new roads including logging roads in forests adjoining the TWWHA.

d) Cultural heritage issues

In response to the Committee’s recommendation to augment property staff with cultural heritage specialists in order to ensure the adequate protection and management of cultural sites both within the property and immediately outside the boundaries, the State Party report notes that the level of baseline funding directed to management of Aboriginal cultural values has been maintained and additional special project funds have been provided including for: the interpretation and monitoring of cave art.

e) Property Area Advisory Committee

The State Party reports that the Consultative Committee for the property will be re-formed and renamed as the Area Advisory Committee. It will include representatives of key interest areas. 

Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies

The World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies recommend that the Committee welcome the State Party’s commitment to provide interim protection to forests adjacent to the property from logging activities while assessments are undertaken to identify the values of these areas - including the Upper Florentine, and areas within the Styx, Huon, Picton and Counsel River Valleys. The Committee should likewise welcome that following these assessments, the Tasmanian Government intends to provide legislative protection to areas of conservation value, which may possibly include their nomination for inclusion within the property. This positive approach is in line with the Committee’s request that the State Party consider, at its own discretion, the potential for additional areas of Outstanding Universal Value to be added to the property, and with the Advisory Bodies’ position regarding the potential of these areas.

However, the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies note that a number of forest reserves adjoining the property appear to have been exempted from interim protection and that logging and road construction are ongoing in parts of the Styx, Huon, Picton and Counsel Areas. They recommend that the Committee express its concern about this and request the State Party to clarify that areas of potential Outstanding Universal Value are not to be exempted from interim protection.

They also recall that the Committee has previously noted the potential negative impacts of adjoining forestry operations on the integrity of the property and has requested the State Party to maintain rigorous monitoring and management systems to ensure that no such impacts arise (Decisions 32 COM 7B.38 and 34 COM 7B.38). The property’s existing monitoring structures together with the revision of the State of Tasmanian World Heritage Area Report in 2014 should provide comprehensive data on the current impacts of adjacent forestry operations on the property’s integrity and values. This in turn should inform the management of these impacts, and of adjoining forest reserves, within the framework of the 2015 Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Management Plan review. 

The World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies note the continued commitment to resource support for Aboriginal cultural heritage but reiterate the Committee’s request to augment staff with cultural heritage specialists. They are also of the view that the Aboriginal community should be represented on the re-formed Area Advisory Committee for the property. 

Decision Adopted: 36 COM 7B.36

The World Heritage Committee,

1.   Having examined Document WHC-12/36.COM/7B.Add,

2.   Recalling Decision 34 COM 7B.38, adopted at its 34th session (Brasilia, 2010),

3.   Welcomes the State Party’s commitment under the Tasmanian Forests Intergovernmental Agreement to provide interim protection to forests adjacent to the property from logging activities while assessments are undertaken to identify the values of these area, including the Upper Florentine, and areas within the Styx, Huon, Picton and Counsel River Valleys;

4.   Also welcomes the State Party’s intention to provide legislative protection to areas that are identified as being of conservation value, which may possibly include their nomination for inclusion within the property, in line with the Committee’s requests at its 32nd (Quebec City, 2008) and 34th (Brasilia, 2010) sessions that the State Party consider, at its own discretion, the potential for additional areas of Outstanding Universal Value to be added to the property;

5.   Takes note however that a number of forest reserves adjoining the property appear to have been exempted from interim protection and that logging and road construction is ongoing in parts of the Styx, Huon, Picton and Counsel Areas, and requests the State Party to clarify in writing to the World Heritage Centre by 1 February 2013 that areas of potential Outstanding Universal Value are not exempted from interim protection, in order to retain their potential for possible addition to the World Heritage property;

6.   Also takes note that the property’s existing monitoring structures together with the revision of the State of Tasmanian World Heritage Area Report in 2014 should provide comprehensive data on the impacts of adjacent forestry operations on the property’s integrity and values, and that this should inform the management of these impacts, and of adjoining forest reserves, within the framework of the 2015 Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Management Plan review;

7.   Notes the continuing commitment of the State Party to resource support for Aboriginal cultural heritage, and reiterates its recommendation to increase property staff with cultural heritage specialists, in order to ensure the adequate protection and management of cultural sites both within the property and immediately outside the boundaries;

8.   Welcomes the re-formed property Area Advisory Committee and recommends that it should include representatives of all stakeholders, including the Aboriginal community;

9.   Also requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2015, an updated report on the state of conservation of the property, including data on the impacts of logging operations on the Outstanding Universal Value of the property and on the proposed management response, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 39th session in 2015.

Decision Adopted: 36 COM 8B.45

The World Heritage Committee,

1.   Having examined Documents WHC-12/36.COM/8B.Add, WHC-12/36.COM/INF.8B1.Add and WHC-12/36.COM/INF.8B2,

2.   Recalling Decision 34 COM 8B.46;

3.   Approves the minor modification of the boundaries of the property Tasmanian Wilderness, Australia, in line with the proposals of the State Party, and as previously considered by the World Heritage Committee;

4.   Reiterates its recommendation that the State Party consider further minor modifications to the boundaries of the property, considering the past decisions of the World Heritage Committee on boundaries in relation to the natural and cultural values.