Year of inscription on the World Heritage List 1981
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/147/documents/
Requests approved: 0
Total amount approved: USD 0
For details, see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/147/assistance/
UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds
Previous monitoring missions
Joint IUCN/ICOMOS/World Heritage Centre mission led by the Chairperson of the Committee in 1998;
Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports
Illustrative material see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/147/
Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2005
The Centre received a report from a concerned NGO in Australia indicating current conservation threats posed to the property as a result of the increase in Cane Toad (Bufo marinus) infestation. The report noted that the park is currently being invaded by the introduced Cane Toad which is causing the extinction of various predatory native species that attempt to prey on the toad and are poisoned by the toxins. This information was provided to the State Party and IUCN.
The Centre furthermore received the report from the State Party, dated 8 March 2005, which noted that Cane Toads are now well established in the Park. It further explained that surveys commissioned by Parks Australia are providing reliable data on the impacts of Cane Toads on native fauna including northern quolls and a number of iguana species. The report indicated that the northern quolls are severely affected by Cane Toads and plans have been made to translocate some of the quolls to offshore islands, unlikely to be colonized by Cane Toads, in the hope that they may provide secure refuges for the species. In addition, it stated that the State Party had provided significant funds for Cane Toad biological control research and control methods.
The report provided the following additional information:
a) Rehabilitation of the Jabiluka Mine Property: The State Party reported that Energy Resources of Australia Ltd (ERA) has placed the Jabiluka property on a long-term care and maintenance regime, and that the Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation and the Northern Land Council, representing the traditional owners of the property, have formally agreed to support the implementation of this regime. The report noted that the agreement contains a commitment that no mining would take place at Jabiluka without the agreement of the traditional owners.
b) Appointment of an environmental NGO representative within the Alligator Rivers Region Technical Committee (ARRTC): The Minister for Environment and Heritage agreed to the inclusion of an environmental NGO representative on the ARRTC and determined an appropriate process for seeking nominations of suitably qualified persons. The Minister also consulted seven national environmental NGO’s and discussions are proceeding to identify a suitable appointment.
c) Measures taken to avoid any further contaminated water incidents at the Ranger Mine: The supervising scientist, in an August 2004 report, found no significant impact on the ecosystems of the Park, as a result of a Uranium Mine spillage incident in March 2004, and that there should be no repercussions on the health of people emanating from the consumption of food or water from the creek or billabongs downstream from the mine. The State Party acknowledged that a number of workers reported adverse health effects as a result of the incident. The report noted that these symptoms in all cases were short-lived and not serious. It indicated that the State Party engaged the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency and the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organization to undertake independent audits of the mine and determine the extent to which ERA had complied with these conditions. The report noted that the audits were conducted in September and October 2004 and in mid-January 2005, each indicating satisfactory progress by ERA. The State Party further noted that the Northern Territory Government has brought charges against ERA under the Mining Management Act 2001. On 27 May 2005, the World Heritage Centre received additional information from the State Party regarding the court proceedings. The report notes that ERA has pleaded guilty to the charges, and that the magistrate hearing the case is expected to pronounce a judgment in the near future.
d) The State Party also reported that the Kakadu Board of Management working with the tourism industry in the Park and supported by the Northern Territory and Australian Governments, has developed a vision for future tourism in the Park, which was launched in February 2005. IUCN noted that the State Party responded favourably to the request of the Committee at its 28th session. The State Party submitted a comprehensive report which adequately addresses the range of issues related to the property and for the ongoing monitoring of Cane Toad impact on the Park’s fauna and ecosystems with a view to adopting management responses to this threat.
The Gundjehmi Aboriginal Corporation and the Northern Land Council have supported the long-term care and maintenance regime at the Jabiluka mining site. However, ICOMOS was concerned to learn that some workers at the Ranger Mine have reported health problems following the potable water pollution incident in March 2004. It endorsed the recommendation of the supervising scientist that a longer-term health monitoring programme should be implemented without delay.
Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies
Decision Adopted: 29COM 7B.30
The World Heritage Committee,
1. Having examined Document WHC-05/29.COM/7B.Rev,
2. Recalling its Decision 28 COM 15B.35, adopted at its 28th session (Suzhou, 2004),
3. Notes the detailed report provided by the State Party of Australia;
4. Commends the State Party for the progress made in the conservation of the property and for the current efforts in improving tourism management in the Park;
5. Requests the State Party to continue the efforts in mitigating the negative impact of Cane Toad on the ecosystem of the property and monitor the progress in this regard;
6. Reiterates the request to the State Party to proceed rapidly with the appointment of an environmental NGO representative within the Alligator Rivers Region Technical Committee (ARRTC); and
7. Also requests the State Party to continue to keep the World Heritage Centre informed on the progress made in addressing the above key issues.