The World Heritage list is a list of places around the World that demonstrate outstanding parts of our planet’s natural or cultural heritage. They are places of recognised outstanding universal value, as defined by a set of identified and recognised criteria. Places on the World Heritage list include the Great Wall of China, the Galapagos Islands, the Pyramids in Egypt, and the Grand Canyon in the U.S.A. To visit the world heritage centre website, http://whc.unesco.org
To have a place recognised on the World Heritage list, a place nominated by a National government has to then be assessed and approved by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural organisation’s (UNESCO) World Heritage Committee (WHC). Australia is a signatory to the World Heritage convention, and Australian places on the World Heritage list include the Great Barrier Reef, Kakadu, the Sydney Opera House, and the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage area – which is recognised for both its natural and cultural values.
The Tarkine is a region of recognised World Heritage significance, but has yet to be nominated for World Heritage listing by the Australian government. A number of the Tarkine’s values make the region outstanding on a global scale, and worthy of recognition by inclusion on the World Heritage list. The Tarkine contains outstanding universal natural and cultural values which would satisfy several of the criteria necessary for World Heritage listing.
A number of prominent bodies have recognised the World Heritage significance of the Tarkine:
The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (1990)
The Tasmanian Department of Parks, Wildlife & Heritage (1990)
The Australian government recognised the Tarkine’s outstanding national significance through listing the Tarkine on the register of the National estate
Leading Tasmanian & Australian environment groups (including The Wilderness Society and the Australian Conservation Foundation, amongst a wide range of others)
The Australian Senate formally recognised the World Heritage significance of the Tarkine in 2007, with a motion passed unanimously
Despite a direction of the Australian Senate in 2007, there has been a falure by successive Environment Minister’s to instruct the Australian Heritage Council to commence assessment of the World Heritage values contained within the Tarkine.
For the Tarkine to be inscribed on the World Heritage list, it would need to be formally put forward to UNESCO (the United Nations Body) by the Australian Government. The formal inscription of a region onto the World Heritage list can be a lengthy and complicated process. Competition around the world for inscriptions onto the World Heritage list is intense. Globally, the immense economic value of World Heritage listing is well recognised – and countries around the world fiercely compete to have areas of natural and cultural significance inscribed on the list.
The Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage area and Macquarie Island are Tasmanian properties on the World Heritage list, with Port Arthur and other Tasmanian historic sites currently being looked at for a serial World Heritage nomination. For more information about the World Heritage list, visit UNESCO’s official World Heritage site: http://whc.unesco.org/