Attributes and the representation of outstanding universal values of eucalypt-dominated vegetation
The global significance of the sub-theme of eucalypt-dominated vegetation derives from the combination of particular aspects of its evolution, distribution, diversity, and ecology in Australia. The outstanding universal values of eucalypt-dominated vegetation identified by the expert workshop are summarised in the preceding sections of this report and in the publications referred to therein.
Attributes of eucalypt-dominated vegetation related to its outstanding universal values were also identified by the expert workshop. These attributes were seen as providing the basis for identifying possible places to represent the sub-theme. The attributes also provide a basis for documenting and assessing the values of places which may contribute to a best global representation of the sub-theme.
Significant attributes identified by the expert workshop in relation to eucalypt-dominated vegetation are summarised in Table 7 (see Workshop Conclusions section below).
Research Plan and Data Issues
To qualify for World Heritage listing, a natural place must meet one or more of the criteria specified in paragraph 44 (a) and fulfil the conditions of integrity specified in paragraph 44 (b) of the Operational Guidelines for Implementation of the World Heritage Convention (UNESCO 1999) (Attachment 1).
Places likely to have world heritage significance as exemplars of the sub-theme of eucalypt-dominated vegetation must include outstanding examples of globally-significant aspects of the sub-theme that meet one or more of these world heritage criteria. The conditions of integrity also require a place to have a high degree of naturalness and to be of sufficiently large size to ensure the maintenance and long term conservation of all of its relevant key elements and processes. Only places that fulfil the conditions of integrity can be eligible to contribute to a serial nomination to the World Heritage List in relation to the sub-theme. Places that fulfil the conditions of integrity may also potentially satisfy the requirements related to criterion (iii), viz:
(iii) “contain superlative natural phenomena or areas of exceptional natural beauty and aesthetic importance” (paragraph 44 (a), UNESCO 1999).
Identification of large and relatively undisturbed areas of natural eucalypt-dominated vegetation is thus a pre-requisite for world heritage listing and is an essential component of the selection of places to represent the sub-theme. The selection process also needs to identify, document and assess outstanding examples of eucalypt-dominated vegetation that represent the globally-significant aspects of the sub-theme.
The expert workshop identified a research plan for the documentation of possible places to represent the sub-theme of eucalypt-dominated vegetation. The research plan embodies an approach to ensure that a minimum set of possible places is put forward for further assessment, that this minimum set provides comprehensive representation of the outstanding universal values of the sub-theme, and that the possible places in the minimum set are able to fulfil the conditions of integrity as specified in paragraph 44 (b) of the Operational Guidelines for the Implementation of the World Heritage Convention (UNESCO 1999). The research plan is summarised as a series of steps in Table 6 below.
Table 6 Steps to identify potential areas to represent the outstanding universal values of eucalypt-dominated vegetation in Australia
Using 1:250,000 overlays, identify zones of interest in relation to the significant attributes of each outstanding universal value of eucalypt-dominated vegetation in Australia. Consider possible places identified by the World Heritage Expert Panel (see Table 1 above) as part of this process.
Identify separately any significant features or particular areas relevant to the outstanding universal values of eucalypt-dominated vegetation not able to be identified in step 1.
Identify areas of high natural integrity amongst zones and areas identified in steps 1 and 2.
Apply a minimum set approach to areas identified in step 3 in order to undertake steps 5, 6 and 7 below.
Identify any outstanding universal values of eucalypt-dominated vegetation represented in places in Australia already inscribed on the World Heritage List.
Identify areas of high management integrity that are designated reserves protected under legislation.
Identify other areas that have high management integrity.
A range of data issues related to the documentation and assessment of possible places to represent the sub-theme were also discussed by the expert workshop. These are summarised below.
It was agreed that the work specified in the research plan would require continent-wide analyses, and that the 1: 250,000 mapsheet series for the continent would be appropriate for this work. An added advantage derives from the fact that this mapsheet series forms the basis for the work of Gill et al. (1985) on the phytogeography of the eucalypts in Australia. Its use would therefore facilitate access to the data and analyses of Gill et al. (1985) as part of the assessment work for the sub-theme.
The expert workshop also noted that a large part of the work undertaken to document and assess eucalypt forests in the RFA process has been at a scale of 1:100,000. The workshop agreed that this scale would be appropriate for documenting and assessing the values of possible places to represent the sub-theme.
Broad-scale vegetation maps for Australia were discussed by the expert workshop, including those by Carnahan based on structural characteristics (Carnahan 1976, Carnahan 1986, AUSLIG 1990), by Bridgewater (1987, pp. 78-79) based on dominant genera (including the eucalypt sub-genera), by Doing (e.g. 1981, Figure 1.1, pp. 10-11) based on a combination of floristics, structure and geographical regions, and by the National Forest Inventory (National Forest Inventory 1998) based on forest types for forest and woodland areas.
It was agreed that the National Forest Inventory maps for forested and woodland areas together with the structural vegetation map of Carnahan (see AUSLIG 1990) for treeless areas would be appropriate for further work in assessing the sub-theme. The workshop also noted that it would be necessary to ensure adequate representation of the vegetation types identified in Tables 3 and 4 as well as vegetation types (e.g. marlock and mallet communities) unable to be mapped at the broader scales used for continental coverage.
The importance of environmental variation on the distribution and diversity of fauna, including factors such as disturbance regimes, regeneration processes and nutrient regimes, and also structure and floristics of the vegetation, were discussed by the expert workshop. The workshop noted that there is a broad correspondence between variation in the vegetation and faunal distribution and variation. It considered that a representative sample of the range of the fauna of eucalypt-dominated ecosystems would be captured in samples of eucalypt-doiminated vegetation provided these were representative of the major types of environments encompassed by this vegetation, and also its major structural and floristic variation. The workshop also recognized that this approach would not necessarily capture outliers and unusual groups, and that special attention and additional work would be needed to ensure representation of these groups where they were important to the outstanding universal value of eucalypt-dominated vegetation.