The Ningaloo Coast has been nominated for World Heritage listing by the Australian Government with the support of the Western Australia Government. It has also been included in the National Heritage List, Australia’s most prestigious heritage recognition.
The announcement that the nomination is being sent to the World Heritage Centre in Paris was made today in Perth by the Australian Government Minister for the Environment, Heritage and the Arts, Peter Garrett and WA Environment Minister Donna Faragher.
The nomination, recognising the outstanding biological diversity of the region, is for an area of 708,000ha in midwest Western Australia, and includes Cape Range on Exmouth Peninsula, a coastal strip extending about 260km south to Red Bluff, as well as adjacent dunefields, marine areas, reefs and islands. Mr Garrett said he took great pleasure in both the National Heritage listing of the area and submission of the World Heritage nomination.
“This is a major achievement for both governments and I am very pleased that the Rudd Government is able to deliver on this important commitment,” Mr Garrett said.
“The Ningaloo Coast tells an extraordinary story of biogeography, climate change, the assembling of continents and the opening of oceans, biological richness and environmental conservation.
“The world renowned Ningaloo Reef stretches hundreds of kilometres along the arid coastline. The present day reef mirrors much earlier reefs that are preserved in the ancient limestone terraces of Cape Range, recording evidence of changing sea levels over time.
“The World Heritage nomination reflects that Ningaloo is internationally significant for its role in the protection of an exceptional number of marine and terrestrial species.
“From its spectacular coral reefs to the beautiful sponge gardens of the continental slope, the richness of the area’s biodiversity is awesome in the true sense of the word.”
The Minister said the extraordinary Ningaloo area is home to some of Australia’s most iconic marine megafauna: manta rays, dugongs, marine turtles, whales and dolphins, rays and sharks, along with the magnificent whale shark, the world’s largest fish, which aggregates in higher numbers than anywhere else on Earth.
The nomination document is being sent to the World Heritage Centre in Paris, where it will be assessed over the next 18 months.
Australia currently has 17 World Heritage properties, including the Great Barrier Reef, Sydney Opera House and Uluru–Kata Tjuta National Park. In addition to the Ningaloo Coast nomination, the Australian Convict Sites World Heritage nomination of 11 sites around the country, is also under consideration by the World Heritage Centre, with a decision expected later in the year.
Ningaloo becomes the 89th place to be included in the National Heritage List.
Ningaloo Reef photos: Tony Howard and Cathy Zwick, DEWHA