GREAT BARRIER REEF
// Outlook Report 2014
strong ongoing links between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders and their sea country.52 The criteria have been amended and renumbered since the Reef was inscribed (Table 4.3).
table 4.3 World heritage criteria relevant to the Great Barrier reef
Short title current criteria The world heritage criteria have been modified since listing of the Great Barrier Reef in 1981. criteria at time of listing
Natural beauty and natural phenomena
(vii) contain superlative natural phenomena or areas of exceptional natural beauty and aesthetic importance
(iii) unique, rare or superlative natural phenomena, formations or features or areas of exceptional natural beauty, such as superlative examples of the most important ecosystems to man (i) outstanding examples representing the major stages of the Earth’s evolutionary history (ii) outstanding examples representing significant ongoing geological processes, biological evolution and man’s interaction with his natural environment (iv) habitats where populations of rare or endangered species of plants and animals still survive
Major stages of the Earth’s evolutionary history Ecological and biological processes
(viii) be outstanding examples representing major stages of Earth’s history, including the record of life, significant ongoing geological processes in the development of landforms, or significant geomorphic or physiographic features (ix) be outstanding examples representing significant ongoing ecological and biological processes in the evolution and development of terrestrial, fresh water, coastal and marine ecosystems and communities of plants and animals (x) contain the most important and significant natural habitats for in situ conservation of biological diversity, including those containing threatened species of outstanding universal value from the point of view of science or conservation
Habitats for conservation of biodiversity
Only those attributes of the Region that are consistent with the four criteria for which the Great Barrier Reef was inscribed are its world heritage values. A Statement of the outstanding universal value of the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area50 is the official statement adopted by the World Heritage Committee outlining how the property met the criteria for outstanding universal value, integrity and protection and management at the time of listing. Given the broad scope of the criteria under which it was listed, almost all attributes of the Reef’s environment are relevant to the criteria and contribute to its outstanding universal value (Appendix 3). This includes the Region’s biodiversity, geomorphology, Traditional Owner connections to the area, its ecological processes, aesthetic values and natural phenomena. The notable exceptions are historic (for example, shipwrecks and lightstations), social and scientific heritage values which are not encompassed by the natural criteria. In 2012 and 2013, the World Heritage Committee expressed concerns about the impact of development on the property’s outstanding universal value and integrity. The Australian Government, as the responsible state party, is coordinating a range of actions to address these concerns. In particular, in 2013 the Australian and Queensland governments undertook a comprehensive strategic assessment of the property53 and adjacent coastal zone54, including an outline of proposed measures to strengthen protection and management arrangements.55,56 The following assessment of the world heritage values (and national heritage values) of the Region is based on the attributes identified in the statement of outstanding universal value. It draws on the evidence and assessments presented in this chapter and in the previous chapters on biodiversity (Chapter 2) and ecosystem health (Chapter 3).
4.5.1 Natural beauty and natural phenomena