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Tasmanian Wilderness

Tasmanian Wilderness

In a region that has been subjected to severe glaciation, these parks and reserves, with their steep gorges, covering an area of over 1 million ha, constitute one of the last expanses of temperate rainforest in the world. Remains found in limestone caves attest to the human occupation of the area for more than 20,000 years.

Description is available under license CC-BY-SA IGO 3.0

Zone de nature sauvage de Tasmanie

Dans une région qui a subi de fortes glaciations, ces parcs et réserves, avec leurs gorges profondes, qui couvrent une superficie de plus d’un million d’hectares, constituent l’une des dernières étendues de forêt pluviale tempérée du monde. Les vestiges découverts dans les grottes calcaires témoignent de l’occupation de la région depuis plus de 20 000 ans.

Description is available under license CC-BY-SA IGO 3.0

منطقة الطبيعة العذراء في تاسمانيا

في منطقة عرفت مراحل جليدية قاسية، تشكّل هذه المنتزهات والمحميات بوهادها العميقة التي تغطي مساحة أكثر من مليون هكتار إحدى آخر المساحات من غابات المطر المعتدلة في العالم. وتشهد البقايا التي تمّ اكتشافها في المغاور الكلسية على سكن الناس للمنطقة منذ أكثر من 20000 سنة.

source: UNESCO/CPE
Description is available under license CC-BY-SA IGO 3.0



source: UNESCO/CPE
Description is available under license CC-BY-SA IGO 3.0

Дикая природа Западной Тасмании

Территории этих парков и резерватов, изобилующие ныне глубокими ущельями, а в прошлом подвергавшиеся серьезному оледенению, покрывают площадь более 1 млн. га. Это один из последних на планете районов произрастания влажных умеренных лесов. Археологические находки, обнаруженные в пещерах, свидетельствуют о заселении этой местности более 20 тыс. лет назад.

source: UNESCO/CPE
Description is available under license CC-BY-SA IGO 3.0

Zona de naturaleza salvaje de Tasmania

Los parques y reservas de esta región –en la que antaño se produjeron intensas glaciaciones– están surcados por desfiladeros profundos y se extienden por una superficie de más de un millón de hectáreas. El sitio alberga uno de los últimos bosques pluviales más extensos de la zona templada existentes en el mundo. Los vestigios encontrados en las grutas calcáreas atestiguan una presencia del ser humano en este territorio desde unos 20.000 años atrás.

source: UNESCO/CPE
Description is available under license CC-BY-SA IGO 3.0


source: NFUAJ

Tasmaanse wildernis

De Tasmaanse wildernis ligt in een gebied dat strenge ijstijden heeft meegemaakt. Het is een van de laatste grote gematigde regenwouden in de wereld, met een oppervlakte van 1 miljoen hectare. De parken en reservaten kennen steile ravijnen en vele kalksteengrotten. Gevonden achterblijfselen in grotten getuigen van menselijke bewoning gedurende meer dan 20.000 jaar. Het gebied strekt zich uit over een groot deel van het zuidwesten van Tasmanië waaronder een aantal eilanden voor de kust. Het insulaire karakter van Tasmanië heeft ertoe bijgedragen dat de fauna in de Tasmaanse wildernis uniek is, omdat er geen invloeden van exotische faunasoorten mogelijk waren.

Source: unesco.nl

Outstanding Universal Value

Brief synthesis

The Tasmanian Wilderness covers more than 1.58 million hectares, almost a quarter of the Australian island State of Tasmania. This is one of the world’s largest and most spectacular temperate wilderness areas and a precious cultural landscape for Tasmanian Aboriginal people, who have lived here for approximately 40,000 years.

Tasmanian Aboriginal people adapted to a changing climate and natural environment through a full glacial-interglacial climatic cycle and were the southernmost people in the world during the last ice age. Evidence of their culture remains in the property today, with significant Pleistocene cave occupation sites, and later Holocene sites, demonstrating a richness and variability rarely seen in comparable global contexts. The rock markings in caves represent an extraordinary connection to their ideas and beliefs. The property is one of the world’s great archaeological ‘provinces’, with many important sites, and a landscape shaped by Aboriginal fire management practices over millennia.

The ecosystems within the extensive wilderness areas of the property are of outstanding significance for their exceptional natural beauty, distinctive landforms and palaeoendemic species and communities. Alpine, estuarine and alkaline wetland ecosystems are globally unusual and unique. The marine, near-shore, island and coastal environments provide habitat for significant breeding populations of seabirds. These areas display extensive undisturbed stretches of high-energy rocky and sandy coastline, forests of giant kelp, and temperate seagrass beds.

Criterion (iii): The Tasmanian Wilderness bears an exceptional testimony to the southernmost occupation by people during the Pleistocene period. Cave sites contain extremely rich, exceptionally well-preserved occupation deposits of bone and stone artefacts. Well preserved, diverse rock marking sites and rock shelter sites provide evidence of Aboriginal occupation, dating back approximately 40,000 years.

Criterion (iv): The Tasmanian Wilderness is a diverse cultural landscape where Aboriginal people have managed and modified the landscape for approximately 40,000 years. Significant stages in human history, from the Pleistocene period to the arrival of Europeans, are illustrated through extensive and diverse Holocene shell middens, rock shelters and artefact scatters, as well as Aboriginal cultural heritage sites. Targeted Aboriginal burning regimes are evidenced in the modified vegetation types within this landscape.

Criterion (vi): Rock marking sites provide a tangible reflection of the beliefs and ideas of the southernmost people in the world during the Pleistocene, and of their descendants in later periods. Red ochre hand stencils, ochre smears, and other amorphous marks have been found in caves throughout the property. Amongst these sites is Wargata Mina which is the southernmost known Pleistocene marking site in Tasmania, and the first site in the world where mammal blood was identified as being mixed with ochre, possibly as a fixative.

The vast majority of rock markings in the caves are individual motifs, spatially separated from one another. This suggests a spiritual or artistic intent, highlighting a considered, organised and arranged approach to the creation of markings, which is supported by the absence of cultural materials or occupation deposits. The rock markings and cave hand stencils together represent a close connection to ideas and beliefs and living traditions of Tasmanian Aboriginal people and their ancestors. 

Criterion (vii): Geological and glacial events, climatic variation at the geological and landscape scales, and Aboriginal occupation and use have combined to produce extensive and varied wilderness landscapes of exceptional aesthetic importance abound. Important landscape features exemplifying the variety and beauty of the property include the rugged, tarn-embedded quartzite ranges, such as the Eastern Arthurs. The dramatic rampart of the Great Western Tiers, marks the northern and eastern bounds of the undulating alpine Central Plateau, where sand dunes with ancient pencil pines abut shallow lakes. Dark-watered estuaries, such as New River Lagoon, nestle below precipitous peaks. The wild and windy coast with its emerald marsupial lawns, and the bizarrely beautiful submarine ecosystems of Port Davey and Bathurst Harbour add to the aesthetic appeal of the property. The golds and greens of wind-moulded alpine and subalpine flora, extensive blankets of buttongrass moorlands and patches of dark green mossy rainforests cloaking southern slopes, contribute to its scenic diversity. Cave systems are ornamented by glow worms, wild rivers cut dramatically through quartzite ranges to calmer water below, and forests dominated by Mountain Ash, at 70-100 metres, dwarf the rainforest understorey below.

Criterion (viii): Extensive outcrops of Jurassic dolerite attest to the breakup of Gondwana more than 40 million years ago. Large areas of terrace systems, stabilized by a peat coating, provide evidence of tectonic and sea level change. Vast areas of wilderness and wild coasts, free of exotic plants, allow fluvial, aeolian and wave-driven processes to continue. Periglacial processes, globally unusual because of the absence of permafrost, actively create stone stripes, polygons and steps. Globally distinct wind-controlled striped mires are the product of ongoing bio-geomorphological processes, as are the peat pond systems. The accumulation of organic matter continues at a landscape scale in nutrient-poor quartzite country, where globally distinct, reddish fibric moor peats occur at depth under rainforest. The property contains globally outstanding exemplars of ongoing temperate maritime karst processes, unusually within dolomite. Palaeokarst, much resulting from the unusual interaction of glacial and karst processes in a maritime climate, provides one of the best available global records of southern temperate glacial processes, with deposits from three eras: the late Cenozoic, late Paleozoic and late Proterozoic.

Criterion (ix): The property’s great size and wilderness character enable significant natural, biological and geomorphological processes to continue in terrestrial, coastal, riverine and mountain ecosystems. The property is exceptional in its representation of ongoing terrestrial ecological processes involving fire and wind. Mosaic landscapes of fire-susceptible and fire-dependent plant communities have formed. These include large, remote, undisturbed areas of Mountain Ash, one of the tallest flowering plants in the world. At alpine altitudes, where wind redistributes sporadic snowfalls, cushion plants, exposed to wind and ice abrasion, thrive. Distinct plant communities, including the only Australian winter deciduous tree, the Deciduous Beech (also known as Tanglefoot), form on fire and weather protected north-eastern slopes. Wind-controlled cyclic succession in lineated Sphagnum mires appears to be globally unique. Unusual assemblages of deep marine species are found within the large estuaries, where communities are moderated by dark tannic freshwater, overlaying salt.

Criterion (x): Extensive areas of high wilderness quality ensure habitats of sufficient size to allow the survival of endemic and rare or threatened species such as the Tasmanian wedge-tailed eagle, and many ancient taxa with links to Gondwana. The orange-bellied parrot and an assemblage of marsupial carnivores are found nowhere else. Some of the longest-lived trees in the world are present, with Huon pines reaching ages in excess of 2000 years. Secure habitats, including hundreds of island refuges, contain very few pathogens, weeds, or pests. Spectacular cave systems are inhabited by endemic invertebrate species, resulting from relict populations separated during periods of glaciation. The world’s most southerly and isolated temperate seagrass beds and giant kelp forests occur in Port Davey and Bathurst Harbour and remote islands support significant breeding populations of seabirds.


The property demonstrates the interaction between people and the landscape over millennia and has an exceptional degree of intactness and high degree of naturalness. Its large extent, remoteness, and quality of wilderness is the foundation for the integrity of its natural and cultural values. Since the property was first inscribed in 1982, boundary extensions have increased the extent of land with high wilderness quality. There is a low level of disturbance from pests, weeds, and diseases. The Pleistocene cave deposits are well preserved due to the deposition of calcium carbonate flowstone (leached from the surrounding limestone) over the top of the cultural deposits, leaving them largely undisturbed and safe from natural erosion and other impacts. Bone preservation is excellent due to the high alkalinity of the sedimentary deposits.

Due to its rugged and remote terrain, tourism facilities are mostly restricted to the periphery of the property, and there are only two major roads, both pre-dating inscription on the World Heritage List. Limited hydro-electricity generation and transmission also occurs.


The ensemble of cultural sites across the landscape demonstrate the way of life of Aboriginal people and their ancestors, as well as their beliefs and ideas, over a period of approximately 40,000 years. Occupation of the area during the late Pleistocene and development of a unique cultural tradition in response to extreme climatic conditions are the basis for the property’s inscription on the World Heritage List under cultural heritage criteria. Since inscription, many more sites demonstrating these events have been identified.

Protection and management requirements

Australia’s Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act) provides legal protection for Outstanding Universal Value by regulating actions occurring within, or outside, the World Heritage boundary. A statutory management plan is in place and is reviewed at least every seven years. Over 80 per cent of the property is zoned as ‘wilderness’.

Two statutory councils, the Aboriginal Heritage Council and the National Parks and Wildlife Advisory Council, provide advice on the management of the property to the Tasmanian and Australian governments. Private freehold conservation covenanted lands within the property are managed according to international open standard management plans demonstrating a high level commitment to ongoing protection.

Aboriginal people access and protect their Country and cultural resources so that cultural practices can be conducted and maintained.