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1301.0 - Year Book Australia, 2006  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 20/01/2006   
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Contents >> Chapter 12 - Culture and recreation >> Culture and natural heritage

CULTURE AND NATURAL HERITAGE

Australia's heritage draws on its cultural and natural environments and the history of its people.

Cultural heritage includes historic places of significance, such as: old towns, and residential and commercial buildings; Indigenous ceremonial grounds and rock art galleries; shipwrecks; streetscapes; as well as paintings, objects, books, aircraft and natural history specimens. Increasingly, what was formerly intangible (such as traditions, customs and habits) is being recorded and documented in photographs, films, tapes and digital records - these also add to Australia's cultural heritage.

Natural heritage refers to natural features, sites or landscapes that are significant because of their ecosystems, biodiversity or geodiversity, or because of their scientific, social, aesthetic or life-support value to present and future generations of people. Extensive areas of coastline, forests, wetlands and deserts are included in national parks, nature reserves and wilderness areas. Many smaller sites are important habitats for native flora and fauna, enabling the conservation of threatened species. Many natural places are significant to Indigenous communities for cultural reasons.

Conservation of heritage places involves identifying them, assessing their values, and classifying and managing them. These functions are shared between all levels of government and their statutory authorities, with assistance from academic and professional bodies, individuals, community conservation organisations such as the national trusts, and conservation councils in each state and territory.

The Australian Government focuses on the assessment and protection of places of world and national heritage significance and on heritage under its control. The statutory provisions for national and Commonwealth heritage were inserted into the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (Cwlth) on 1 January 2004. The legislation establishes procedures to identify, conserve and protect places of national heritage significance, provides for the identification and management of Commonwealth heritage places, and establishes an independent expert body, the Australian Heritage Council, to advise the Minister on the listing and protection of heritage places.

The National Heritage List has been established by the legislation in order to protect places of outstanding heritage significance to Australia. The list presents and protects the places that best tell the story of the unique Australian continent, the development of the nation, and the evolution of the distinctively Australian character and national identity. The list includes natural, historic and Indigenous places. As at the end of June 2005, the public had nominated a total of 88 places for inclusion and, to this date, eleven had been listed - six historic, three Indigenous and two natural.

Another list, the Commonwealth Heritage List, specifies places of heritage value which are owned or leased by the Australian Government. Australian Government-owned places include telegraph stations, defence sites, migration centres, customs houses, lighthouses, national institutions such as Old Parliament House, memorials, islands and marine areas. In June 2004, 334 places of heritage value were named on the Commonwealth Heritage List. During 2004-05 a further 25 places were nominated for inclusion, of which three were accepted, resulting in there being 337 places on the Commonwealth Heritage List at the end of June 2005.

Other major Australian Government heritage activities include the nomination of sites for World Heritage listing, and the protection of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander heritage. At 30 June 2005 there were 16 Australian places on the World Heritage List.

The Register of the National Estate, accessible at <http://www.ahc.gov.au/>, is a list of important natural, historic and Indigenous places throughout Australia, from local to national significance, and both publicly and privately owned. No additional places were entered in the Register of the National Estate during 2004-05. The number of places on the Register, by state or territory and type of place, is shown in table 12.1.

12.1 PLACES ON THE REGISTER OF THE NATIONAL ESTATE - JUNE 2005

Indigenous places
Historic places
Natural places
Total

New South Wales
221
3,136
488
3,845
Victoria
111
2,431
254
2,796
Queensland
155
739
324
1,218
South Australia
153
1,205
391
1,749
Western Australia
74
972
285
1,331
Tasmania
66
1,210
263
1,539
Northern Territory
107
157
68
332
Australian Capital Territory(a)
30
193
30
253
External territories
-
42
24
66
Total
917
10,088
2,128
13,129

(a) Includes Jervis Bay.

Source: Department of the Environment and Heritage.


All states and territories maintain lists or registers of heritage places that have particular importance to the people of the state or territory. There is also a register of historic shipwrecks in Australian waters, and heritage registers or lists are maintained by many local governments and the National Trust.


The Australian Heritage Directory, at <http://www.heritage.gov.au>, provides public access to the National Heritage List, Commonwealth Heritage List, World Heritage List, Register of the National Estate, state and territory historic Heritage Lists, and the Australian National Shipwreck Database.

COLLABORATIVE AUSTRALIAN PROTECTED AREAS DATABASE

The Collaborative Australian Protected Areas Database (CAPAD) (<http://www.environment.gov.au/parks/nrs/science/capad/index.html>)records the area of conservation reserves in each state and territory, using the World Conservation Union (IUCN) classification system of protected areas (<http://www.deh.gov.au/parks/iucn.html>). The classification system comprises seven categories based on the main (or primary) management intent of protected areas as follows:

  • IA - Strict nature reserve: managed mainly for science
  • IB - Wilderness area: wilderness protection
  • II - National park: ecosystem conservation and recreation
  • III - National monument: conservation of specific natural features
  • IV - Habitat/species management area: conservation through management intervention
  • V - Protected landscape/seascape: landscape/seascape conservation and recreation
  • VI - Managed resource protected areas: sustainable use of natural ecosystems.

Table 12.2 shows the amount of protected land in each category by state and territory. Most of the land recorded in CAPAD is public land.

12.2 PROTECTED AREAS, By state and territory - October 2004

IUCN category

IA
IB
II
III
IV
V
VI
Total

AREA ('000 ha)

New South Wales
775
1,682
3,239
5
208
4
222
6,134
Victoria
263
202
2,849
65
77
139
151
3,746
Queensland
37
-
6,971
44
84
-
1,483
8,619
South Australia
6,248
2,216
2,643
758
1,985
506
10,988
25,344
Western Australia
10,821
-
6,148
74
15
1
10,340
27,400
Tasmania
24
-
1,495
18
187
90
777
2,590
Northern Territory
44
-
6,204
7
263
181
234
6,932
Australian Capital Territory
-
-
129
-
-
-
-
129
Australia
18,213
4,100
29,678
971
2,819
920
24,196
80,895

PROPORTION (%)

New South Wales
1.0
2.1
4.0
-
0.3
-
0.3
7.7
Victoria
1.2
0.9
12.5
0.3
0.3
0.6
0.7
16.5
Queensland
-
-
4.0
-
-
-
0.9
5.0
South Australia
6.3
2.3
2.7
0.8
2.0
0.5
11.2
25.8
Western Australia
4.3
-
2.4
-
-
-
4.1
10.8
Tasmania
0.4
-
21.9
0.3
2.7
1.3
11.4
37.9
Northern Territory
-
-
4.6
-
0.2
0.1
0.2
5.1
Australian Capital Territory
-
-
54.7
-
-
-
-
54.8
Australia
2.4
0.5
3.9
0.1
0.4
0.1
3.1
10.5

Source: Cummings, B, Department of the Environment and Heritage, 2005, pers. comm., 26 July 2005.


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