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

N/A

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 2010

On 1st February 2010 the State Party submitted a report on the State of Conservation of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area (TWWHA). This provided detailed information on issues previously considered by the World Heritage Committee, and as requested in World Heritage Committee Decision 32 COM 7B.41

With respect to the issues raised by the World Heritage Committee in its Decision 32 COM 7B.41, the State Party reported as follows:

a) Matters related to the management of the existing World Heritage property

The World Heritage Centre and Advisory Bodies note that the State Party report includes information regarding commitments and work undertaken since the last World Heritage Committee Decision. The recognition of inappropriate mining is an important statement, and the commitment to add the Melaleuca-Cox Bight area to the property after mining licences expire is also welcomed. The review of the Tasmania RFA also provides a public statement on improvements sought in relation to the overall management of forestry in Tasmania.

The World Heritage Centre and IUCN have received a number of detailed reports from nature conservation NGOs, and an Australian Senator, one of which was submitted with an indication that it is seen by the NGO as a report to the World Heritage Committee. The reports express concern regarding forestry practices in areas adjoining the property, including the impact of a reported 80 logging coupes within 5km of the property boundary that have been scheduled for exploitation until 2012. Resultant impacts on the integrity of the property are suggested to arise from a variety of factors. These include concern over the reported logging of two coupes that have boundaries that are stated to be contiguous with the property boundary and others near to the boundary, that may expose the area to the risk of “edge effects,” such as vegetation die-back, soil desiccation and increased exposure to wind and sunlight within the property. In addition, the impact of logging on fire risk and water systems; the direct and indirect impacts of associated logging roads as a vector for invasive species and diseases; habitat fragmentation; impacts of logging coupes on views out of and into the property, are amongst other cited concerns. It is reported that, in the past year, a further eleven coupes have been subject to logging, and an additional two, mainly in the Upper Florentine Valley and Styx Valley, have been impacted by road construction and operations. NGO submissions express dissatisfaction regarding the consultations between the State Party and key stakeholders over the last two years regarding the logging of forest surrounding the TWWHA.

The World Heritage Centre and Advisory Bodies note the progress towards the establishment of a monitoring mechanism that could involve all relevant stakeholders, and that the completion of such a mechanism can be anticipated following the conclusion of the national review of World Heritage governance and advisory Committees in June 2010. They consider that an agreed, objective system is essential to underpin the assessment of the degree to which adjoining activities impact or have the potential to impact on the Outstanding Universal Value of the property. Such arrangements could, over time, lead to enhanced dialogue and a better consensus on the balance of land uses between logging and provision for conservation in the forests that surround the property, including those areas that have previously been noted as having potential for eventual addition to the property. IUCN considers that logging coupes close to or contiguous with the property boundary could pose avoidable risks to its integrity, and is concerned at continued reports of such logging.

b) Statement of Outstanding Universal Value

The State Party has prepared a draft Statement of Outstanding Universal Value for the Committee’s consideration that, it considers, better reflects all the values of the property, and the cultural landscape elements. The World Heritage Centre and Advisory Bodies welcome the submission of the draft, which will be carefully reviewed in collaboration with the State Party, for presentation to the 35th session of the World Heritage Committee for adoption.

c) Boundaries of the property

The State Party report includes a proposal that would add a total of 23,873 hectares to the property, which already extends to 1.38 million hectares, or 20% of the area of the State of Tasmania. Supported by a map illustrating the boundary modification, this proposal – which will be considered as a “minor modification” by the World Heritage Committee under the corresponding item - responds to the recommendations from the 2008 Reactive Monitoring Mission to include adjacent reserves, provides for a more coherent management regime, and increases the representation of tall eucalyptus forest in the TWWHA. When mining licenses have expired, the State Party also proposes to add the area of Melaleuca to Cox Bight to the property.

The State Party was requested by the Committee, in Decision 32 COM 7B.41, to consider, at its discretion, a potential extension of the property to include additional areas considered by IUCN and ICOMOS to have potential to demonstrate Outstanding Universal Value. Apart from the addition of the 21 adjacent formal reserves, and the Southwest Conservation Area south of Melaleuca to Cox Bight, the State Party does not propose to further extend the boundary of the TWWHA. It considers the addition of the 21 adjacent formal reserves sufficiently representative of tall eucalypt forests, and cultural sites of significance to the Aboriginal community, in the property.

The reports received from NGOs and other conservation interests consider that the 21 adjacent formal reserves are not sufficiently representative of tall eucalypt forests, and identify areas they consider should be added as a further extension to the property. The extent of areas they consider meet World Heritage criteria could extend to 806,000ha, including areas currently managed as part of the TWWHA Management Plan. Biodiversity surveys recently conducted by NGOs report evidence of vulnerable and endangered species in coupes scheduled for logging in the Upper Florentine Valley. The reports strongly recommend that the TWWHA boundaries be extended to include the surrounding high conservation value forests, and request the World Heritage Committee to call on the State Party to implement an immediate moratorium on all forest operations within 2km of the TWWHA boundary, noting that logging of these areas clearly limits the possibility to include them in any possible extension of the property.

IUCN carefully considered the above issues in the advice it provided in the State of Conservation Report to the 33rd session of the World Heritage Committee. It considered the evidence of ecological surveys of the area, the information provided by the State Party at the time of inscription and extension of the property, and the different expert missions to the property. IUCN reiterates its position, as reported to the 33rd session, regarding the potential of areas adjoining the property to demonstrate Outstanding Universal Value. IUCN acknowledges that it is a matter for the State Party to consider whether to proceed with any extension, but regrets that a more positive approach of the State Party to considering the request in the previous decision of the World Heritage Committee has not been forthcoming to date, and that areas with potential for addition to the property have continued to be subject to logging. As the property is a mixed property, ICOMOS notes that any proposal for extension would need to consider the relevance, within the added area, of the same cultural criteria used for the inscribed property. This would have to be based on archaeological evidence resulting from adequate surveys and documentation.

 

In summary, the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies recognize the progress made in the management of the property in response to the last Committee decision whilst noting the continued lack of agreement between the State Party, logging and conservation concerns over the management of the adjacent forest reserves and the management of the impacts of adjacent logging on the integrity of the property. The conclusion of an agreed monitoring framework involving all stakeholders, as previously requested by the World Heritage Committee appears to remain highly important to resolving these issues.

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

N/A

Decision Adopted: 34 COM 7B.38

The World Heritage Committee;

1. Having examined Document WHC-10/34.COM/7B,

2. Recalling Decision 32 COM 7B.41, adopted at its 32nd session (Quebec City, 2008),

3. Recognizes the efforts made by the State Party to address the actions requested in Decision 32 COM 7B.41;

4. Welcomes the submission of a draft Statement of Outstanding Universal Value for the property;

5. Thanks the State Party for proposing a minor modification to include 21 formal reserves within the property that are already covered by the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area (TWWHA) Management Plan, also welcomes its commitment to add the Melaleuca-Cox Bight area to the property once mining licences have expired, and also recalls its request regarding the potential for further additional areas to be considered at the discretion of the State Party for eventual addition to the property;

6. Notes the potential for impact on the integrity of the existing World Heritage property from adjoining forestry operations, and requests the State Party to maintain rigorous assessment and management systems to ensure that no such impacts arise;

7. Also requests the State Party to finalize as soon as possible the creation of a mechanism involving all relevant stakeholders, to monitor, asses and manage the impact of forestry operations, road construction and regeneration on the integrity of the TWWHA, and adjoining reserves, as previously requested by the Committee;

8. Further requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2012, an updated report on the state of conservation of the property, especially on the outcomes of the monitoring arrangements focusing specifically on the impact of the logging operations and road construction on the Outstanding Universal Value of the existing property, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 36th session in 2012.

Decision Adopted: 34 COM 8B.46

The World Heritage Committee,

1. Having examined Documents WHC-10/34.COM/8B, WHC-10/34.COM/INF.8B1.Add and WHC-10/34.COM/INF.8B2,

2. 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 requested by the World Heritage Committee;

3. Welcomes the intention of the State Party to add the Southwest Conservation Area south of Melaleuca to Cox Bight to the property when mining licenses have expired;

4. Requests the State Party to ensure that the protection and management of the property within its modified boundaries takes account of past decisions of the World Heritage Committee regarding the State of Conservation of the existing property, including the management of threats in the areas adjoining its boundaries;

5. Recommends that the State Party consider further minor modifications to the boundaries to allow for inclusion of appropriate cultural sites, related to and complementing those within the property, with appropriate protection being put in place, and considering the past decisions of the World Heritage Committee on the boundaries of the property in relation the natural and cultural values;

6. Also recommends that the State Party augment its 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.