The international significance of the natural values of the Australian Alps

A report to the Australian Alps Liaison Committee
J B Kirkpatrick, May 1994

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Introduction

  1. The Australian Alps have been argued to have international significance for many of their natural properties, including their geology, geomorphology, alpine ecosystems, the catena of eucalypt-dominated communities and their aesthetic qualities. Kosciusko National Park is already a Biosphere Reserve and is recognised internationally for the biological diversity of its plants.
  2. The parks in the MOU area have undoubted international significance under the Convention for Biological Diversity and have qualities as a whole that should allow them to be readily recognised as the core of an enlarged Biosphere Reserve.
  3. The Australian Alps have outstanding international significance on the criteria used in the World Heritage Convention in a variety of areas, most notably their outstanding representation of a highly diverse and unusual assemblage of communities dominated by eucalypts, their evidence of geomorphological, edaphic and ecological processes in the alpine and treeless subalpine zones, and their character as a globally unusual intraplate mountain range.
  4. The outstanding natural attributes of the Australian Alps compare well with those that have been used as a basis for the recent successful nominations for World Heritage of other areas in Australia.
  5. Unfortunately, the integrity of some parts of the Australian Alps, while being reasonable on an international scale, is comparatively poor compared to the same recent nominations, both as a result of past development and exotic species invasion, and as a result of continuing use of part of the area for purposes inconsistent with the maintenance of World Heritage qualities. The perception of poor integrity could put any nomination at risk of failure.
  6. The chances for a successful nomination for World Heritage would be improved by further commitment to the elimination of current threatening processes, and the mitigation of the effects of past disturbances. A commitment to the removal of stock grazing would be important.
  7. Any nomination should exclude development areas, unless they are highly significant for threatened species. The arguments in the nomination would be improved by the inclusion of the Mt Buffalo National Park, the Baw Baw National Park, the Errinundra National Park, the Coopracambra National Park and the Croajingolong National Park. However, non-contiguity and the non-inclusion of the parks in southeastern New South Wales reduce the potential strength of the East Gippsland inclusions.