State of Conservation (SOC)
Kakadu National Park (2003)
UNESCO Extra-Budgetary Funds
International Assistance granted to the property
Total Amount Ap proved:0USD
October 1998: World Heritage Centre / ICOMOS / IUCN joint mission
Factors* affecting the property identified in previous reports
- Mining projects;
- Protected area considered inadequate at the time of inscription
- Presence of cane toads (Bufo marinus) in Kakadu National Park
Current conservation issues
In responding to Decision 26 COM 21 (b) 30, the State Party provided the following new information in a letter dated 31 January 2003 that was subsequently transmitted by the World Heritage Centre to ICOMOS and IUCN:
The mining company Energy Resources of Australia (ERA) will develop an Environmental Management System (EMS) certified to meet ISO14001 (an international standard of excellence for environmental procedures and systems). ERA will develop the EMS in consultation with regulators and Aboriginal representatives and aims to be compliant with ISO14001 by July 2003 and certified by 2005.
In September 2002, the Supervising Scientist released a report into allegations by a former employee of deficiencies in management at the Ranger uranium mine between 1996 and 1998. The overall conclusion of the report was that, apart from a previously reported breach of the Ranger Authorization in December 1997, no evidence had been found that ERA has operated otherwise than in accordance with its Authorization and the Commonwealth's Environmental Requirement. The report is available at http://www.ea.gov.au/ssd/publications/ssr/ 171.html
The Senate Environment, Communications, Information Technology and the Arts References Committee was due to report on the Inquiry into Environmental Regulation of Uranium Mining by March 2003. The submissions made to the Inquiry are available at http://www.aph.gov.au/ senate/committee/ecita_ctte/uranium/submissions/sublist.htm and the transcripts at http://www.aph.gov.au/hansard/ senate/commttee/s-ecita/htm. The State Party has indicated that they will report to the Committee on the outcomes of the Inquiry relevant to any of Australia's World Heritage properties at the 27th session of the World Heritage Committee.
The Alligator Rivers Region Technical Committee (ARRTC) last met in September 2002 to examine issues such as the research on programmes relating to monitoring and assessment, water management and landscape monitoring. ARRTC gave its endorsement to the current phase of the landscape monitoring programme being developed by the Supervising Scientist in response to the recommendation of the International Scientific Panel of the International Council for Science (ICSU). In addition, ARRTC assessed the Supervising Scientist's routine monitoring programme as being current best national and international practice. In August 2002, the Minister for the Environment and Heritage wrote to six environmental NGOs seeking up to two nominations from each organization for consideration for appointment to the ARRTC. The National Environmental Consultative Forum responded to this request, however, only one nomination was provided. The State Party has indicated that it will report on any new information on this matter at the 27th session of the World Heritage Committee.
The State Party has indicated that it will report to the Committee on progress concerning cultural heritage protection and management issues at the 27th session of the World Heritage Committee.
The Indigenous Health Education Project (IHEP) at Jabiru Area School is continuing to achieve positive outcomes for indigenous students in the Kakadu region.
On 15 April 2003, the Centre received a report from a group of Australian environmental NGOs on the state of conservation of Kakadu Natioanl Park. The NGOs referred to the following recent developments and commented that the impacts of uranium mining operations and the potential for further large scale industrial development at the Jabiluka site are having an adverse impact on Kakadu:
i) State Party failure to accept and implement enhanced monitoring and review mechanisms, including failure to accept agreed environmental NGO representation on the ARRTC;
ii) No clear indication by the mining company Rio Tinto/Energy Resources of Australia to rehabilitate the Jabiluka mine site;
iii) Formal resolutions from the Australian Chapter of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature calling for the rehabilitation of the Jabiluka mine site and the appointment of an agreed environmental NGO representative on ARRTC;
iv) Continuing serious deficiencies in the four priority issue areas identified by IUCN and no further articulation or detail by either the State Party or the mining company as to how and when promised improvements to the environmental management regime will be realised;
v) Continuing erosion of environmental NGO and wider stakeholder confidence in the adequacy and effectiveness of current monitoring and protection regimes;
vi) Inadequate communication and clarity of responsibilities, role definition and reporting lines between State Party and Northern Territory Government agencies;
vii) Detailed evidence and testimony on environmental and cultural impacts received as part of a continuing Australian Senate Inquiry into the effectiveness of existing regulatory frameworks.
The report of the environmental NGOs was transmitted to the State Party with a request for response by 31 May 2003. The State Party response will be sent to IUCN and ICOMOS for information and review and will be reported orally by the Observer of Australia at the 27th session of the Committee.
No comments were provided by IUCN at the time of preparation of the document.
No comments were provided by ICOMOS at the time of preparation of the document.
Analysis and Conclusion
Link to the decision
The World Heritage Committee,
1. Notes the new information provided by the State Party;
2. Urges the State Party to proceed with the appointment of a non-governmental organization (NGO) representative to the Alligator Rivers Region Technical Committee (ARRTC);
3. Requests that the State Party provide a report on:
(a) progress on compliance with ISO14001,
(b) the ARRTC's continuing monitoring and review of water management and other environmental issues at Jabiluka and Ranger,
(c) consultation with the Traditional Owners of Kakadu on cultural heritage management and protection.n;
The report should be provided to the World Heritage Centre by 1 February 2004 in order that the World Heritage Committee can examine the state of conservation of the property at its 28th session in 2004.
Draft Decision: 27 COM 7 (b) 28
The World Heritage Committee,
1. Notes the new information provided by the State Party,
2. Requests that the State Party provide a report on (i) progress on compliance with ISO14001; (ii) the appointment of NGO representatives to the Alligator Rivers Region Technical Committee (ARRTC); (iii) the ARRTC's continuing monitoring and review of water management and other environmental issues at Jabiluka and Ranger, and (iv) consultation with the Traditional Owners of Kakadu on cultural heritage management and protection. The report should be provided by 1 February 2004 for review by its 28th session in June/July 2004.
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The threats indicated are listed in alphabetical order; their order does not constitute a classification according to the importance of their impact on the property.
Furthermore, they are presented irrespective of the type of threat faced by the property, i.e. with specific and proven imminent danger (“ascertained danger”) or with threats which could have deleterious effects on the property’s Outstanding Universal Value (“potential danger”).