World Heritage for the Flinders Ranges
Over 600 million years old, the Flinders Ranges is one of Australia’s magnificent landscapes. This diverse landscape is world-renowned for its wealth of natural, cultural, historic and scenic values making it an iconic tourism destination with unparalleled visitor experiences.
Particularly extraordinary are the fossils and geology of the Flinders Ranges, which display the history of our planet and the evolution of life on Earth. Some of this critical evidence spans more than 300 million years and includes the world’s finest example of the Ediacaran explosion of life, when the earliest forms of complex multicellular animal life evolved. It is these outstanding geological and palaeontological forms within the Flinders Ranges that make it an important site to pursue for World Heritage Listing.
Pursuing World Heritage Listing for parts of the Flinders Ranges provides an exciting opportunity to recognise this site on a global scale, to celebrate these outstanding values and create economic benefits for the region.
Why pursue World Heritage Listing for the Flinders Ranges?
The potential World Heritage value of the geology and palaeontology in the Flinders Ranges, and the associated opportunities for elevated tourism in the region have been highlighted in three recent State Government policy publications:
- Nature Like Nowhere Else: Activating Nature-based Tourism in South Australia (Strategy and Action Plan) – recognises pursuing World Heritage Listing in the Flinders Ranges to capitalise on one of our great natural assets.
- The First Animal Life on Earth: An Action Plan for South Australia’s Ediacaran Fossils – recommends pursuing World Heritage in the Flinders Ranges to recognise that South Australia has the world’s best Ediacaran fossils.
- Leigh Creek Futures Report – identifies the potential of World Heritage to contribute to economic security for the Northern Flinders Ranges.
These recommendations to pursue recognition of world-class values in the Flinders Ranges complement numerous regional efforts to capitalise on the magnificent landscapes of the Flinders Ranges, including through the Mountains of Memory project and recognition as one of Australia’s National Landscapes.
The recommendations to pursue World Heritage Listing for the Flinders Ranges are grounded in the science. In August 2016, approximately 20 of Australia’s leading geology and palaeontology experts convened in Adelaide for a workshop to test the proposition that the Flinders Ranges contains outstanding values that are exemplary, not replicated elsewhere and would meet the strict World Heritage criteria. The response from the experts was an overwhelming ‘yes’, confirming that the proposition is sound and the nomination should proceed.
The outstanding values identified and tested at the experts workshop have been documented in a Preliminary Statement of Values Report for the World Heritage proposition in the Flinders Ranges. This informative technical report is a great way to get an understanding of why we're talking about World Heritage in the Flinders Ranges and why we're pursuing a World Heritage nomination.
What would a World Heritage property in the Flinders Ranges look like?
A World Heritage property in the Flinders Ranges would be a series of discrete sites that best expresses the area’s geology and fossil values being nominated, rather than an all-encompassing ‘blanket’ across the region.
Through collaboration with expert geologists and palaeontologists we are identifying sites that contain the outstanding values, and will undertake a thorough assessment to consider a range of parameters and practicalities of those sites.
The Preliminary Statement of Values Report identifies some of the sites in the Flinders Ranges that contain these outstanding values of potential World Heritage quality – these are Ikara-Flinders Ranges National Park, Vulkathunha-Gammon Ranges National Park, Ediacara Conservation Park, Arkaroola Protection Area and the Ediacaran fossil site on Nilpena Station.
Importantly, no decisions will be made about which sites would be included in a World Heritage nomination without the complete support of each landowner, and we will work collaboratively with them to make those decisions.
How is a nomination for World Heritage being pursued?
The World Heritage nomination for the Flinders Ranges is being led by the Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources, in partnership with the South Australian Museum (Department of State Development) and Geological Survey of South Australia (Department of the Premier and Cabinet).
Community involvement is a critical component of the World Heritage nomination in the Flinders Ranges. We will engage the community in an open and inclusive manner throughout the process.
The World Heritage nomination process is a complex one that will take a number of years. There are two main components to the World Heritage nomination process:
Technical aspect – the science behind the nomination and the nomination document itself.
Collaborative engagement ­– developing a shared understanding of the World Heritage proposal and shared responsibility for its future; and working collaboratively with the community to explore opportunities to shape how we can best position the Flinders Ranges to maximise benefits and economic opportunities from World Heritage.
For the best chances of success, a well-planned and carefully-implemented process will be critical.
How can the community get involved?
Community involvement is a critical component throughout the World Heritage nomination process. We are committed to providing the community with opportunities to learn about World Heritage, the complex nomination process and what’s involved; and to providing opportunities to get involved in the conversation to shape and realise opportunities World Heritage Listing can bring to the Flinders Ranges and broader region.
We are developing a range of community engagement activities, products and information that is responsive to the needs of the community, and we strongly encourage everyone interested in the World Heritage nomination in the Flinders Ranges to get involved.
The World Heritage conversation has certainly started – we have been present at a number of community events and have met with a range of stakeholder groups, and we are connecting with broad community interests via our Facebook page. We have also developed a series of postcards to evoke thought and conversation about the World Heritage opportunity.
On 12 July 2017 we held our first Stakeholder Forum, where a diverse representation of stakeholders came together to learn about World Heritage, explore its possibilities and opportunities, hear a range of perspectives, and work collaboratively to start visioning what a World Heritage future in the Flinders Ranges could look like. The participants engaged in energetic and creative conversation. They shared ideas that reflected the plethora of cultural, environmental and social values and connections that give the Flinders Ranges its identity, and are important to celebrate as part of the Flinders Ranges story. The participants also shared ideas about how stakeholders and the community might like to be involved throughout the World Heritage journey.
A report has been prepared – the Flinders Ranges World Heritage Nomination Stakeholder Forum: Record of the Day – which records the program outline; an overview of the information provided to participants; and the thoughts and ideas generated and shared throughout the day.
This Stakeholder Forum was the first of many conversations and opportunities for key stakeholders in the community to be engaged and involved in the World Heritage journey.
Watch this space and our Facebook page for more exciting opportunities to get involved in the World Heritage proposition in the Flinders Ranges as we begin to broaden the conversation even further.
What are some important facts about World Heritage in the Flinders Ranges?
Through some early conversations with key stakeholders over the last few months, some important questions have been raised about a World Heritage proposition in the Flinders Ranges. Here, we can clarify some of these and look forward to discussing and exploring them further with the community as the nomination process continues.
A World Heritage property in the Flinders Ranges would not be an all-encompassing ‘blanket’ across the region. It would be a series of discrete sites (‘serial sites’) that best represent the region’s outstanding geology and fossil values being pursued for nomination.
A serial site would only be included in the World Heritage nomination if the landowners wanted it.
Community involvement is a critical component throughout the World Heritage nomination process – particularly in shaping and realising opportunities World Heritage Listing can bring to the Flinders Ranges and broader region.
A World Heritage property in the Flinders Ranges would be an opportunity to celebrate the region’s outstanding geology and fossil values, and to share them with all present and future generations as part of the Flinders Ranges story that is rich with cultural, environmental and social values and connections.
Achieving World Heritage status requires that a property is aligned with very specific criteria, and demonstration with strong evidence and comparative analysis that the values being nominated are absolutely unique/not replicated anywhere else in the world. Pursuing World Heritage status in line with these specific criteria in no way diminishes the plethora of wonderful cultural, environmental and social assets of the Flinders Ranges – it will provide an opportunity to celebrate and share them on a global scale.
A common myth is that the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and/or the Federal Government control World Heritage properties. This is not correct – control remains with the landowners and the community.
The potential location of the proposed National Radioactive Waste Management Facility at Wallerberdina Station near Hawker would have no impact on the World Heritage proposal for the Flinders Ranges (given the nature of the values for which we are pursuing a nomination (geology and fossils) and the distance of the areas of interest from the location of the potential waste facility).
A World Heritage property in the Flinders Ranges would be managed to complement existing land uses such as pastoralism and tourism.
Stay up to date
To keep informed about the progress of the World Heritage nomination for the Flinders Ranges, and for opportunities to be involved:
Phone: (08) 8124 4752
Facebook: www.facebook.com/FRWHnomination or search for World Heritage for the Flinders Ranges
Photo credits: Image 2 - The Armchair, Bill Doyle. Image 3 - Spriggina fossil, The Museum Board of South Australia.