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 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 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 expert’s 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 and Geological Survey of South Australia, Department of State Development.
Community involvement in the decision-making processes is fundamental to the World Heritage nomination for the Flinders Ranges. We will engage the community in an open and inclusive manner from the outset.
The World Heritage nomination process is a complex one that will take a number of years. There are two main components to the process:
- Technical aspect – the science behind the nomination and the nomination document itself.
- Opportunities exploration – exploring opportunities to benefit from a World Heritage property and working collaboratively with the community to shape how we can best position the Flinders Ranges to maximise economic opportunities.
For the best chances of success, a well-planned and carefully-implemented process is critical.
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 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 that best represent the region’s outstanding geology and palaeontology being pursued for nomination.
- A site would only be included in the World Heritage nomination if the landowners wanted it.
- Community involvement in the decision-making processes is fundamental to a World Heritage nomination for the Flinders Ranges.
- A World Heritage property in the Flinders Ranges would not be another layer of ‘control’ – it’s about celebrating the region’s outstanding values.
- 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 managment facility).
- A World Heritage property in the Flinders Ranges would complement existing land uses – it would not affect pastoralism and other existing land uses. Many World Heritage properties around the world sit within and around a range of developments, infrastructure and land uses.
How can the community get involved?
As mentioned above, community involvement in the decision-making process is fundamental to a World Heritage nomination for the Flinders Ranges. We will therefore engage collaboratively with the community throughout the process.
We are in the very early stages of community engagement. We are developing a range of community engagement activities, products and information, and we strongly encourage everyone interested in the World Heritage nomination for the Flinders Ranges to get involved.
Watch this space for exciting opportunities to get involved in this proposition for the Flinders Ranges.
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
Photo credits: Image 2 - The Armchair, Bill Doyle. Image 3 - Spriggina fossil, The Museum Board of South Australia.