Appendix 3 Attributes that contribute to the outstanding universal value of the Great Barrier Reef
Given the broad scope of the criteria under which the Great Barrier Reef was listed as a world heritage property, almost all attributes of the ecosystem contribute to its outstanding universal value. The Statement of the outstanding universal value of the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area (2012) is the official statement adopted by the World Heritage Committee outlining how the property met the criteria for outstanding universal value at the time of listing. The following excerpts of the statement indicate the attributes considered to contribute to the property’s outstanding universal value.
Natural beauty and natural phenomena (Criterion (vii), previously (iii))
• Superlative natural beauty above and below the water • Some of the most spectacular scenery on Earth • One of a few living structures visible from space • A complex string of reefal structures along Australia’s north-east coast • Unparalleled aerial panorama of seascapes comprising diverse shapes and sizes • Whitsunday Islands provide a magnificent vista of green vegetated islands and white sandy beaches spread over azure waters • Vast mangrove forests in Hinchinbrook Channel, or the rugged vegetated mountains and lush rainforest gullies • On many of the cays there are spectacular and globally important breeding colonies of seabirds and marine turtles • Raine Island is the world’s largest green turtle breeding area • Beneath the ocean surface, there is an abundance and diversity of shapes, sizes and colours... Spectacular coral assemblages of hard and soft corals • Thousands of species of reef fish provide a myriad of brilliant colours, shapes and sizes • The internationally renowned Cod Hole is one of many significant tourist attractions • Superlative natural phenomena include the annual coral spawning, migrating whales, nesting turtles, and significant spawning aggregations of many fish species
Major stages of the Earth’s evolutionary history (Criterion (viii), previously (i))
• Globally outstanding example of an ecosystem that has evolved over millennia • Area has been exposed and flooded by at least four glacial and interglacial cycles, and over the past 18,000 years reefs have grown on the continental shelf • Today, the Great Barrier Reef forms the world’s largest coral reef ecosystem... Including examples of all stages of reef development • Processes of geological and geomorphological evolution are well represented, linking continental islands, coral cays and reefs • The varied seascapes and landscapes that occur today have been moulded by changing climates and sea levels, and the erosive power of wind and water, over long time periods • One-third of the Great Barrier Reef lies beyond the seaward edge of the shallower reefs (and) comprises continental slope and deep oceanic waters and abyssal plains