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; November 2015: joint 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 2016

A joint IUCN/ICOMOS Reactive Monitoring mission visited the property in November 2015 and met with all stakeholders involved in the protection and management of the property, including representatives of the Tasmanian Aboriginal Community, environmental NGOs, political parties and governmental institutions, academics, independent consultants and representatives of the tourism and specialty timber sectors. Subsequently, the State Party submitted a report on the state of conservation of the property on 8 April 2016. Both reports are available at https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/181/documents. Noting the acceptance by the Governments of Australia and Tasmania of all the mission’s recommendations, the State Party provides the following information:

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

The exemplary commitment of both the Australian and the Tasmanian Governments to consider the property off limits for any commercial resource extraction, to integrate the natural and cultural values of the property in the management approach and to develop joint management arrangements with the Tasmanian Aboriginal Community should be strongly welcomed.

The commitment of both Governments to fund and facilitate an in-depth cultural survey, as requested by the Committee, should also be welcomed. The important role of the Aboriginal Heritage Council (AHC) is acknowledged, while noting the need to engage with the diverse Tasmanian Aboriginal Community more comprehensively. The planned synthesis report distilling all available information on known cultural sites will contribute to informing both the management of natural and cultural values of the property and the Retrospective Statement of OUV.

The ongoing revision of the draft management plan for the property is a crucial instrument to reflect past World Heritage Committee decisions and recommendations of the mission. One challenge in the ongoing consultations is the polarisation between and within stakeholder groups. All efforts should be made to build trust among stakeholders, as the basis for future conservation and management. The laudable commitment by the Tasmanian Government to develop joint management arrangements with the Tasmanian Aboriginal Community will require the recognition and accommodation of diverse views within that community. Follow-up should fully involve the AHC and a strengthened Aboriginal role in the National Parks and Wildlife Advisory Council (NPWAC), but also consider indigenous views and aspirations as legitimate and integral elements of the management of the property more broadly. It is hoped that this will result in a more holistic understanding of the cultural and natural heritage of the property, and eventually in a meaningful involvement of the Aboriginal Community in governance and decision-making.

The recent fires in Tasmania are a strong reminder of the need to consider fire as both a natural disturbance factor and a major anthropogenic threat in management planning within and beyond the property. While the State Party reported that the fires have had a low impact on the property, affecting mostly fire-adapted vegetation types which are expected to recover to their original state, and while it has accepted the overall recommendation of the mission to ensure adequate resources for fire research and management, it is recommended that the Committee request the State Party to ensure that the issue of fire management is fully reflected in the revision of the draft Management Plan for the property, including through evaluation of recent experiences with responses to fires. The independent review of the management of the Tasmanian fires of January 2016, submitted by the State Party on 10 May 2016, is also noted. It is recommended that the conclusions and recommendations of the review also be taken into account in the revision of the Management Plan.

The commitment to strict assessment criteria for all tourism development proposals within the property, including additional criteria in the Management Plan, as part of regulations to ensure that commercial tourism proposals do not impact negatively on the property’s OUV is needed and welcome. If elaborated and implemented according to the State Party’s reported intentions, such strengthening of the management plan along with a specific Tourism Master Plan will provide much-needed refined guidance in terms of the direct, indirect and cumulative impacts of tourism and visitation. As the mission noted, there is legitimate Aboriginal interest in more meaningful involvement in site interpretation and adequate tourism development, so as to adequately convey the Aboriginal history of the property and to seize employment and income opportunities.

It is recommended that the Committee commend the State Party for the commitments it has expressed with regards to the recommendations made by the mission and request the State Party to fully implement these recommendations, including through provision of necessary human and financial resources.

Decision Adopted: 40 COM 7B.66

The World Heritage Committee,
  1. Having examined Document WHC/16/40.COM/7B.Add,
  2. Recalling Decisions 38 COM 847 and 39 COM 7B.35, adopted at its 38th (Doha, 2014) and 39th (Bonn, 2015) sessions respectively,
  3. Commends the State Party for its commitment to explicitly rule out all forms of commercial logging and mining in the whole of the property, as well as its other commitments made in response to the recommendations of the 2015 joint IUCN/ICOMOS Reactive Monitoring mission, and requests the State Party to implement all of the mission’s recommendations;
  4. Welcomes the State Party’s commitment to include additional and strict assessment criteria to ensure that commercial tourism proposals do not impact negatively on the property’s Outstanding Universal Value (OUV), and notes that a separate Tourism Master Plan will be elaborated in order to refine the balance between legitimate tourism development and conservation of cultural and natural attributes, based on consultation and negotiation with relevant stakeholders, including the Tasmanian Aboriginal Community;
  5. Notes the information provided by the State Party with regard to the recent fires which affected the property, and also requests the State Party to ensure that fire research and management are fully reflected in the revision of the draft Management Plan for the property, including through the evaluation of recent experiences with fire response and taking into account the conclusions and recommendations made by the independent review of the management of the Tasmanian fires of January 2016;
  6. Encourages the State Party to explore the possibility of dual naming for the property, to reflect its wilderness character, its Aboriginal heritage and the relationship of the Tasmanian Aboriginal Community with the property;
  7. Further requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by mid-2017, a synthesis report of all available information on cultural sites of the property and a detailed plan for the comprehensive cultural survey, as recommended by the mission, and, by 1 December 2017, an updated report on the state of conservation of the property and the implementation of the above, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 42nd session in 2018.