1.         Great Barrier Reef (Australia) (N 154)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  1981

Criteria  (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/154/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0
Total amount approved: USD 0
For details, see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/154/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds

N/A

Previous monitoring missions

N/A

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

Illustrative material  see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/154/

Information presented to the Bureau of the World Heritage Committee in 1998

At its twenty-first extraordinary session in November 1997, the Bureau requested the Australian authorities to provide specific information on the results of the financial review of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA).  The Minister for the Environment in Australia has informed the Centre that until the financial review of GBRMPA has been completed, he is unable to provide details as the findings of the review are still under consideration by the Government.  The Minister has informed the Centre that he will provide further information when relevant decisions have been made.

Since the conclusion of the twenty-first session of the Committee in December 1997, a letter from the National Campaign Office of The Wilderness Society signed on behalf of thirteen Australian conservation groups, addressed to the Chairperson of the World Heritage Committee, was received by the Centre.  The letter refers to threats to four natural properties inscribed on the World Heritage List, namely Great Barrier Reef, Shark Bay, Western Australia and the Wet Tropics of Queensland, and to two mixed natural and cultural properties, i.e. Kakadu National Park and Tasmanian Wilderness.  The threats referred to in the letter include commercial exploitation (e.g. mining, fishing, logging and tourism projects) within, and adjacent to the World Heritage properties.  The Chairperson transmitted to the Permanent Delegate of Australia to UNESCO and to IUCN and ICOMOS seeking their review and comments. In addition, a copy of a letter to the Editor of the Australian newspaper concerning the state of conservation of the Great Barrier Reef, signed by world renowned conservationists, has also been received by the Centre and transmitted to the Permanent Delegate of Australia to UNESCO and to IUCN for their review and comment. To date no comments have been received from the Australian authorities on either of the letters mentioned above.

IUCN has acknowledged in its report to the Centre that it receives a large volume of reports and statements concerning threats to many of the thirteen World Heritage sites of Australia and that it does not have the capacity at its Headquarters in Switzerland to evaluate all of them. IUCN’s Australian Committee had offered, in November 1997, to undertake annual assessments of selected properties and expects to complete reports on two properties before the twenty-second session of the Committee. 

Action Required

The Bureau recommends that IUCN in co-operation with its Australian Committee, establish a mechanism for assessing, in a timely manner, the continuous stream of information received by the Centre on the state of conservation of Australian World Heritage sites and ensure that an updated state of conservation report on the Great Barrier Reef and one other natural site is submitted to the twenty-second session of the Committee.


22nd extraordinary session of the Bureau in 1998:
At its twenty-first extraordinary session (November 1997) the Bureau requested the Australian authorities to provide specific information on the results of the financial review of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA). At its twenty second ordinary session (June 1998), the Bureau was informed that the Australian uthorities have set rigorous environmental conditions on development activities in the Hinchinbrook region, and have implemented several other measures to strengthen the conservation of the Great Barrier Reef. 
Since the conclusion of the Bureau session in June 1998, the Australian authorities have informed the Centre that they have acted on the findings of the financial review.
In accordance with the review’s key recommendations, the Australian Government has reorganised GBRMPA to assist the Authority to meet critical challenges in protecting and managing the Great Barrier Reef. The Australian authorities have indicated that they are unable to provide the Centre with a copy of the financial review of the GBRMPA since it is considered an internal working document of the Government. 
IUCN has informed the Centre that it will submit a report on the state of conservation of this site, based on information to be provided by its Australian National Committee, at the time of the twenty-second extraordinary session of the Bureau. 

Decision required: The Bureau, after reviewing new information that may be submitted by IUCN at its session, may make recommendations as appropriate.

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 1998

The Bureau at its twenty-first extraordinary session requested the Australian authorities to provide specific information on the results of the financial review of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA). At its twenty-second session, (June, 1998) the Bureau was informed that the Australian authorities have set rigorous environmental conditions on development activities in the Hinchinbrook region, and have implemented several other measures to strengthen the conservation of the Great Barrier Reef. Since then, the Australian authorities have informed the Centre that they have acted on the findings of the financial review. In accordance with the review’s key recommendations, the Australian Government has reorganized the GBRMPRA to assist the Authority to meet critical challenges in protecting and managing the Great Barrier Reef. The Bureau noted that the Australian authorities are unable to provide the Centre with a copy of the financial review of the GBRMPA since it is considered an internal working document of the Government.

The Bureau was informed that IUCN has received reports on the state of conservation of this site from its Australian National Committee, GBRMPA and the Australian NGOs and it is in the process of reviewing all those reports.

Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre and IUCN

The Bureau requested the Centre to transmit the reports from IUCN Australia and the Australian NGOs to the State Party for review and comments. Furthermore, the Bureau recommended that IUCN provide an up-to-date state of conservation report for the twenty-third session of the Bureau.

Decision Adopted: 22 BUR V.B.18

The Bureau, at its twenty-first extraordinary session in November 1997, requested that the Australian authorities provide specific information on the results of the financial review of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA). The Bureau noted that the Minister for the Environment of Australia has informed the Centre that the financial review of the GBRMPA has been completed, and that more detailed information on the recommendations of that review would be made available to the Centre as soon as the Government has considered those recommendations and has taken relevant decisions. (See Annex IV).

The Observer of Australia, informed the Bureau of measures taken to address other potential threats to the site which had been brought to the attention of the Centre and the Chairperson of the Committee by several Australian NGOs. In doing so, she pointed out that the expressed concerns of the NGOs in their December 1997 letter were extremely vague, with no supporting evidence and that therefore they were difficult to respond to. However, she outlined the following steps which had been taken and indicated that she had in fact previously commented on most of these issues.