9 Heritage | Key findings

State of the Environment 2011 Committee. Australia state of the environment 2011.
Independent report to the Australian Government Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities.
Canberra: DSEWPaC, 2011.

9 Heritage

Key findings

Our extraordinary and diverse natural and cultural heritage generally remains in good condition.

Australia is a complex, layered natural and cultural landscape in which unique geodiversity and biodiversity provide the palette for an ancient Indigenous culture and two centuries of post-colonial settlement history. Our heritage can be experienced at different levels and through different encounters: at grand and minute scales, in both tangible and intangible ways. The current condition and integrity of Australia's listed heritage generally appear to be good, with some deterioration evident over recent years. However, it is challenging to draw a single cohesive conclusion about the condition of Australia's natural and cultural heritage, given the diverse and fragmented nature of available information.

Australia is recognised internationally for leadership in heritage management.

We have a range of well-resolved processes for identification, protection, management and celebration of our heritage that should reduce pressures, minimise risk and retain those values that make our heritage places special.

Our heritage is being threatened by natural and human processes and a lack of public sector resourcing that does not reflect the true value of heritage to the Australian community.

The nation's protected natural and cultural resource does not include all the places with heritage value, nor is it truly representative. Management and protection of Australia's heritage is under-resourced and, despite our internationally recognised processes, the systems used to manage our heritage are cumbersome. This is out of line with community perceptions of heritage value. Consequently, our heritage is at great risk from the impacts of climate change, threats arising from development, and pressures that flow from population growth.

Improvement will require change.

The future for Australia's heritage will depend on government leadership in two key areas: undertaking thorough and comprehensive assessments that lead to adequate areas of protected land and comprehensive heritage inventories, and changing heritage management paradigms and resource allocation in response to emerging threats.