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 1999

Summary of previous deliberations: At its twenty-first session (Naples, 1997), the Committee was informed by the Australian authorities of the rigorous environmental conditions set for the development activities in the Hinchinbrook region and of other measures implemented to strengthen the conservation of the Great Barrier Reef. At its twenty-second session (Kyoto, 1998), the Committee noted that the Australian authorities had acted on the findings of the financial review of the GBRMPA (Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority) to further strengthen the conservation of the site. They were however, unable to provide the Centre with a copy of that review since it is considered an internal working document of the Government. In addition, the Committee requested the Centre to transmit the reports from IUCN Australia and other Australian NGOs to the State Party for review and comments and recommended that IUCN provide an up-to-date state of conservation report for the twenty-third session of the Bureau.

New information: IUCN has transmitted to the Centre a report entitled “Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area: Condition, Management and Threats” which has been forwarded to the State Party for review and comment. The report has been prepared by ACIUCN using a comprehensive monitoring process it had initiated to draw together government and non-government members from Australia and focus on key conservation issues. The report, compiled over a six-month period, was adopted by ACIUCN on 30-31 March 1999. Key issues highlighted in this report include:

Action Required

The Bureau, based on comments of the State Party on the ACIUCN report, and IUCN responses to those comments to be provided at the time of its session, may wish to take appropriate decisions thereupon.

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 1999

Previous deliberations:

Twenty-second session of the Committee – Chapter VII.27 and page 93 of Annex IV.

Twenty-third ordinary session of the Bureau – Chapter IV.21.

Information document WHC-99/CONF.209/INF.5

 

New information: The twenty-third ordinary session of the Bureau, in July 1999, requested the Australian Committee for IUCN (ACIUCN) and the State Party to review the 29 recommendations listed in the March 1999 ACIUCN report “Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area: Condition, Management and Threats”. The Bureau also requested the ACIUCN and the State Party to elaborate a more focused set of recommendations and a detailed plan for their implementation and monitoring.  The Commonwealth Government of Australia in a letter dated 7 October 1999 transmitted a focused set of recommendations, and a detailed plan for their implementation and monitoring to the Centre and IUCN. These "Focused Recommendations" and the “Framework for management” of the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area (GBRWHA) are included in WHC-99/CONF.209/INF.5.

IUCN has reviewed both the "Focused Recommendations" and the "Framework for management" of the GBRWHA. The "Focused Recommendations" have been grouped under five priority action areas as outlined below:

 

1.    The Management of Land and Coastal Catchments (Recommendations 10 - 15 in the ACIUCN Report)

       IUCN recommends that governments report on the development and implementation of strategic plans, and on environmental impact assessment and management initiatives undertaken, with particular attention to cumulative and interacting impacts, to ensure that activities including vegetation clearance, drainage and irrigation, urban, agricultural and pastoral land use, island developments and the disturbance of acid sulphate soils are only permitted if they do not have ecologically unsustainable impacts on the GBRWHA.

 

2.    The Management of Fisheries (Recommendations 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7 in the ACIUCN Report)

IUCN recommends that governments give high priority to the development and implementation of management plans with sustainability indicators for all fisheries in the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area.  These should address not only the target species and stock but also bycatch and the condition of the ecosystem upon which the fishery depends. 

 

3.    The Management of Shipping and Ship Sourced Pollution (Recommendations 20 and 21 in the ACIUCN Report)

IUCN recommends that further international efforts should be taken to address the risks posed to the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area by shipping with inadequately trained ships crews and inadequately maintained vessels.

 

4.        Representative Marine Protected Areas (Recommendation 27 in the ACIUCN Report)

IUCN recommends as a matter of high priority that the percentage of no-take (IUCN category 1 and 2) areas within the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area should be increased to achieve a comprehensive adequate and representative system of protected areas.

 

5.        Resources for Research and Management (Recommendations 28 and 29 in the ACIUCN Report)

IUCN recommends that the State Party provide adequate funding to managing authorities and other relevant agencies for research and vital management essential for maintenance of the values of the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area.  This should include the provision to the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority of a core budget from general revenue sufficient to allow it to meet its World Heritage obligations.

 

For each of the above five action areas, the "Framework for management" elaborates the following:

·        a brief background to the recommendation;

·        key issues;

·        the actions proposed;

·        an indication of the lead agency (and other agencies involved);

·        the date when the action is due;

·        any additional comments; and

·        main references for further information relating to the recommendation.

IUCN considers the "Framework for management" as proposed by the State Party to be comprehensive and that it establishes a basis for monitoring the implementation of the "Focused recommendations". IUCN commends the work undertaken by the State Party in full consultation with the State Government of Queensland and ACIUCN and other concerned stakeholders and welcomes this consultative approach.  IUCN reiterates its view that catchment issues pose the most serious threat to the GBRWHA and notes the urgency of the need for effective integrated catchment management to reduce environmental impact on the World Heritage site. IUCN however, notes and agrees with the State Party that many of these issues will require social and economic changes of a scale which will take years to achieve, such as in relation to modification of land use related impacts and the management of fisheries. This underlines the importance of developing strategic objectives and actions to ensure the long term protection of the GBRWHA and establish a plan to monitor their implementation as has been established in the "Framework for management".

Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre and IUCN

N/A

Decision Adopted: 23 BUR IV.B.21

At its twenty-first session (Naples, 1997), the Committee was informed by the Australian authorities of the rigorous environmental conditions set for the development activities in the Hinchinbrook region and of other measures implemented to strengthen the conservation of the Great Barrier Reef. At its twenty-second session (Kyoto, 1998), the Committee noted that the Australian authorities had acted on the findings of the financial review of the GBRMPA (Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority) to further strengthen the conservation of the site. In addition, the Committee requested the Centre to transmit the reports from the Australian Committee of IUCN (ACICUN) and other Australian NGOs to the State Party for review and comments and recommended that IUCN provide an up-to-date state of conservation report for the twenty-third session of the Bureau.

IUCN underlined that the ACIUCN has started a process for monitoring Australian sites. The aim is to bring IUCN members together to discuss key issues at each site and recommend actions. This process, although not perfect, has to be encouraged. In the ACIUCN report that IUCN transmitted to the Centre and has been forwarded to the State Party for review and comment, are a number of key points:

(a)      the scale and complexity of this World Heritage site has to be recognized as a key issue relating to assessing management effectiveness;

(b)      the range of threats, including catchment management and impacts from on-shore activities on the adjoining reef complex needs a co-ordinated approach to management between a range of different stakeholders and agencies;

(c)      the need for an effective and representative system of protected areas within this very large World Heritage site; and

(d)      the importance of a strong, effective and dedicated authority for management.

ACIUCN indicated strong support for the GBRMPA but noted that the organization needs to have organisational stability and long-term adequate funding. IUCN noted a number of other threats, including fishing, oil spills and oil shale mining and noted that ACIUCN recommended that no oil shale mining and prospecting should be permitted within the GBR World Heritage area and adjacent zones. IUCN recognizes that the GBRMPA has a challenging, complex and very difficult task in managing the Reef. IUCN feels that the state of the GBR World Heritage area should be looked at in conjunction with the IUCN report and the implementation of the strategic plan for the GBR. IUCN feels that the state of the GBR World Heritage area should be looked at in conjunction with the IUCN report and the implementation of the strategic plan for the GBR.  IUCN supports stakeholder-Government consultation as part of the periodic reporting process.

The Bureau noted that the Australian authorities had submitted their comments on the ACIUCN Report entitled: “Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area: Condition, Management and Threats”. They have annexed a description of recent management initiatives addressing threats to the integrity of the GBR World Heritage Area to that letter. The letter and the annex were transmitted to IUCN for review. Furthermore, the Centre also received a copy of the letter from Mr. Victor Kuss, to the Executive Director of ACIUCN, expressing his disagreement concerning the recommendation of the ACIUCN report on oil shale mining in the World Heritage area and in the adjacent inter-tidal zone (Recommendation No: 22 of the ACIUCN report).

The Bureau welcomed the two-step process adopted by IUCN to review the state of conservation of the Great Barrier Reef for the purpose of its reporting to the Bureau, i.e. an initial in-depth review by ACIUCN in full consultation with all stakeholders to report to IUCN Headquarters, followed by an IUCN Headquarters review of the ACIUCN report and other relevant information to provide inputs to the Centre’s preparation of the working document on the state of conservation of World Heritage sites. 

The Bureau requested ACIUCN and the State Party to review the 29 recommendations listed in the ACIUCN report, to elaborate a more focused set of recommendations and a detailed plan for implementation and monitoring those recommendations. Such a plan should, to the extent possible, be built on consensus view of all stakeholders concerned with the long-term conservation of the GBR World Heritage area. This plan should be provided to the Centre and IUCN before 15 September 1999 so that a report can be submitted to the twenty-third session of the Committee to be held in Marrakesh, Morocco, from 29 November to 4 December 1999.

The Australian Observer agreed with the recommendation of the Bureau and made a set of observations on the ACIUCN report’s recommendations and proposed follow up actions.  The full text of the statement made by the Australian Observer is included in Annex III.

Decision Adopted: 23 COM X.B.23

X.23 Great Barrier Reef (Australia)

The Committee recalled the reports from the twenty-third ordinary and the twenty-third extraordinary session of the Bureau on the state of conservation of this property and adopted the following decision:

"The Committee noted progress reported on the "Focused Recommendations" and the "Framework for management" relating to the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area (GBRWHA) at the twenty-third and the twenty-third extraordinary sessions of the Bureau. IUCN noted the framework for action, which has been prepared and that it concerns a long-term strategy.

The Committee accepted the "Focused Recommendations", and the "Framework for management" of the GBRWHA as a basis for monitoring the implementation of those recommendations. The Committee commended the process and the product arising from the consultative approach used in monitoring the state of conservation of the GBRWHA and recommends its adoption as an approach to other World Heritage natural properties in Australia. The Committee invited the State Party to submit progress reports on the implementation of the "Focused Recommendations" to the annual sessions of the Committee for review."