World Heritage Places - Tasmanian Wilderness - More information
Extension to the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area
On 24 June 2013 the World Heritage Committee at its 37th session in Phnom Penh, Cambodia accepted the Australian Government proposal to add more than 170 000 hectares to the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area.
The extension means additional areas of exceptional beauty, particularly majestic stands of tall eucalypt forests, glacial landforms and alpine and sub-alpine environments are now afforded the highest level of protection.
The boundary extension increases the extent of wet eucalypt forests within the property and will enhance the connectivity between its tall eucalypt forest and rainforest.
Additional important habitat for rare and threatened species such as the endangered wedge-tailed eagle and the Tasmanian devil are also included in the boundary extension. The Great Western Tiers are an important breeding ground for the endangered white form of the Grey Goshawk.
The new boundary increases the representation of the glacial features and processes in the World Heritage Area, including landforms which contain evidence of glacial movement along the Walls of Jerusalem and Central Plateau millions of years ago.
2010 and 2012 extensions
In 2010 Australia proposed 22 areas to be added to the property. In July 2010 at the 34th session of the World Heritage Committee, 21 formal reserves were added to the property.
On 2 July 2012, at the 36th session of the World Heritage Committee a further minor modification of the boundary of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area, to include an additional 3,823 ha - from Melaleuca to Cox Bight, was approved.
The Tasmanian Wilderness is one of the largest conservation reserves in Australia. At approximately 1.6 million hectares it is one of the three largest temperate wilderness areas remaining in the Southern Hemisphere.
Description of place
The rugged and spectacular landscapes of the Tasmanian Wilderness contain rocks from almost every geological period, the oldest being formed about 1,100 million years ago during the Precambrian period. Some of the deepest and longest caves in Australia and other spectacular karst landscapes are found here.
Due to the diversity of its vegetation the region is recognised as an International Centre for Plant Diversity by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The highly varied flora, ranging from open and closed forests through to buttongrass moorland and alpine communities, occurs in a unique mosaic of Antarctic and Australian elements. The Antarctic element consists of species descended from those present on the supercontinent Gondwana.
Some of the longest lived trees in the world such as Huon pines (Lagarostrobos) and other native conifers grow in the area. Nothofagus is an ancient plant genus of Gondwanan ancestry, represented in the area by N. cunninghamii and Australia's only winter deciduous tree, N. gunnii. Some of the tallest flowering plants in the world, Eucalyptus regnans, grow here. The area contains approximately 264, or 65 per cent, of Tasmania's endemic vascular plant species.
The fauna is also of global significance because it includes an unusually high proportion of endemic species and relict groups of ancient lineage. The diverse topography, geology, soils and vegetation, in association with harsh and variable climatic conditions, combine to create a wide array of animal habitats. Many groups of marsupials and burrowing freshwater crayfish have survived as relicts of the Gondwanan fauna.
The insularity of Tasmania, and of the Tasmanian Wilderness in particular, has contributed to its uniqueness. The area remains a stronghold for several animals such as the Tasmanian devil, Tasmanian pademelon, eastern quoll and ground parrot that are either extinct or threatened on mainland Australia. The Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area is home to the last wild breeding population of the critically endangered Orange-bellied Parrot. There may be less than 50 Orange-bellied Parrots in the wild currently.
Fauna endemic to the region include the moss froglet, Pedra Branca skink, Pedder galaxias and invertebrate groups with a high proportion of species entirely or primarily restricted to the area, such as freshwater crayfish, mountain shrimps, stoneflies, caddisflies, landhoppers and harvestmen.
The area's cultural world heritage values relate to Aboriginal occupation.
Archaeological surveys have revealed an exceptionally rich and important collection of Aboriginal sites, including Kutikina Cave. These places, along with all of the world heritage property's Aboriginal sites, are extremely important to the Tasmanian Aboriginal community for their exceptional cultural, emotional and spiritual value.
Over 40 sites have been located in the south west inland river valleys that indicate human occupation dating to at least 30,000 years ago. When these places were occupied the climate was significantly colder and drier than it is now, and the sites reveal the distinctive ways the Tasmanian Aboriginal community developed to survive climate change and Ice Age conditions.
This group of places, which also includes rock art sites, forms one of the richest and best-preserved collections of Ice Age sites found anywhere in the world. During the periods of earliest occupation, the Aboriginal people of the region are believed to have been the most southerly people on earth.
Day-to-day management of the area is the responsibility of the Tasmanian Parks and Wildlife Service (Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment). Specialist advice is provided to the Service by the Resource Management and Conservation Division (Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment).