World Heritage status can be listed for areas consistent with one of more of the following 10 criteria:
1.To represent a masterpiece of human creative genius.
2.To exhibit an important interchange of human values, over a span of time or within a cultural area of the world, on developments in architecture or technology, monumental arts, town-planning or landscape design.
3.To bear a unique or at least exceptional testimony to a cultural tradition or to a civilization which is living or which has disappeared.
4.To be an outstanding example of a type of building, architectural or technological ensemble or landscape which illustrates (a) significant stage(s) in human history.
5.To be an outstanding example of a traditional human settlement, land-use, or sea-use which is representative of a culture (or cultures), or human interaction with the environment especially when it has become vulnerable under the impact of irreversible change.
6.To be directly or tangibly associated with events or living traditions, with ideas, or with beliefs, with artistic and literary works of outstanding universal significance. (The Committee considers that this criterion should preferably be used in conjunction with other criteria).
7.To contain superlative natural phenomena or areas of exceptional natural beauty and aesthetic importance.
8.To be outstanding examples representing major stages of earth's history, including the record of life, significant on-going geological processes in the development of landforms, or significant geomorphic or physiographic features.
9.To be outstanding examples representing significant on-going ecological and biological processes in the evolution and development of terrestrial, fresh water, coastal and marine ecosystems and communities of plants and animals.
10.To contain the most important and significant natural habitats for in-situ conservation of biological diversity, including those containing threatened species of outstanding universal value from the point of view of science or conservation.
The GBMWHA is listed as a World Heritage Area as it forms an example of an area that displays characteristics consistent with criteria 9 and 10 as highlighted in bold above.
It has therefore been identified that it is the biodiversity and threatened species considerations that need to form the focus of this project. Although the other eight World Heritage Area criteria may or may not apply, they are not officially the reasons for the listing of the World Heritage area (including Yengo National Park) and hence they do not form core aspects of this project. An obvious example of criteria for which further consideration could be (and has been) applied is for Aboriginal and European heritage value. Such values (or other values consistent with the remaining criteria) could be nominated for assessment by the World Heritage Committee for potentially adding to the existing listed values of the GBMWHA. However, detailed investigation into cultural heritage (or other) values is not part of the scope for this project.
Priority conservation areas and potential future GBMWHA extension considerations would logically consider the two criteria that were used for listing the GBMWHA. Relevant documentation, existing studies and the original nomination includes (but is not limited to):
The Greater Blue Mountains Area World Heritage Nomination (NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service 1998)
The Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area Strategic Plan (NSW National Parks & Wildlife Service 2009)
Vegetation, Fire and Climate Change in the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area (Hammill & Tasker 2010).
The location and size of the GBMWHA results in a complex interrelationship between conservation objectives, adjoining land uses and strategic planning objectives. This is exemplified by competing land uses that occur in the Lower Hunter (and Hunter Valley in general) adjoining the GBMWHA such as mines, gas exploration, wineries, the equine industry and urban uses. Further discussion of these issues is provided in this project.
The purpose of this project is to support regional sustainability planning, particularly the preparation of the Lower Hunter Regional Strategy (LHRS) and Regional Conservation Plan (RCP). While the focus and outputs of this project are at a regional scale, Cessnock City Council (CCC) will also be able to use the outcomes of this project as one of its considerations for future land use management and planning within the LGA.
There are three main components to this project:
Identify and recommend high priority conservation areas within the Lower Hunter region through an assessment of World Heritage values (and complementary values) across portions of the GBMWHA and adjacent lands in the Cessnock LGA.
11.Analysis and identification of potential threats to World Heritage values as a result of development and conservation considerations.
12.Analysis and identification of potential measures to protect, maintain and improve World Heritage values in the region.
Complementary values are defined as those natural values that support the integrity and resilience of the World Heritage values, while being generally located outside of the defined World Heritage area.
Specifically, the project aimed to:
review and assess existing available literature relevant to the project
undertake key stakeholder and expert consultation to obtain input into the project
prepare a priority conservation map, focussing on areas within the Cessnock LGA that provide values complementary to the GBMWHA
using the priority conservation map and consultation with stakeholders, identify and discuss priority conservation areas
undertake targeted field studies to assess relevant management issues on the ground, and inspect priority conservation areas
outline direct and indirect impacts on complementary values of the GBMWHA and the potential for indirect impacts on World Heritage values within the GBMWHA
analyse and identify potential threats to World Heritage values (and complementary values) as a result of development and conservation considerations
analyse and identify potential measures to protect, maintain and improve World Heritage values (and complementary values) in the region.