The Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (Cth) (EPBC Act) provides for: places of outstanding universal value to be proposed by the Australian Government for inscription on the World Heritage List places of outstanding value to the nation to be placed on the National Heritage List significant heritage under the jurisdiction of the Australian Government to be placed on the Commonwealth Heritage List. The Australian Government administers these listed places, although management of National Heritage– and World Heritage–listed places is undertaken by the relevant state or territory government. For Commonwealth Heritage, the responsible Australian Government agency manages the sites. World Heritage The World Heritage List recognises natural and cultural heritage places that are of significance at the global level. These places have Outstanding Universal Value. Because of their importance, these properties are accorded a high level of protection. However, climate change, invasive species and tourism pressures, combined with insufficient resources to manage these properties to address these issues, continue to put Australia’s World Heritage at risk. Australia has 20 World Heritage properties (Figure 22): 12 are natural properties, 4 are cultural properties, and 4 are mixed natural and cultural properties (all having natural and Indigenous-related Outstanding Universal Values). As the first Australian property to be included on the World Heritage List for Indigenous cultural heritage values only, the 2019 Budj Bim Cultural Landscape listing is a significant milestone (see case study: Budj Bim Cultural Landscape inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2019). Given the size and complexity of Australia and its more than 60,000 years of continuing connection to Country, many Indigenous communities and others consider 20 World Heritage listings to be nowhere near enough (Larsen 2018). However, Australia has a relatively high number of World Heritage properties compared with other countries: of the 167 signatory countries, only 13 countries have more World Heritage properties than Australia; 94 countries have fewer than 5 properties, and 27 countries have none. Figure 22 Australia’s World Heritage properties and National Heritage places, as of 30 June 2020 Expand View Figure 22 Australia’s World Heritage properties and National Heritage places, as of 30 June 2020 Notes: Australian World Heritage Properties (in order of listing): 1 – Great Barrier Reef; 2 – Kakadu National Park; 3 – Willandra Lakes Region; 4 – Lord Howe Island Group; 5 – Tasmanian Wilderness; 6 – Gondwana Rainforests of Australia; 7 – Uluṟu–Kata Tjuṯa National Park; 8 – Wet Tropics of Queensland; 9 – Shark Bay, Western Australia; – 10 Fraser Island; 11 – Australian Fossil Mammal Sites (Riversleigh / Naracoorte); 12 – Heard Island and McDonald Islands; 13 – Macquarie Island; 14 – Greater Blue Mountains Area; 15 – Purnululu National Park; 16 – Royal Exhibition Building and Carlton Gardens; 17 – Sydney Opera House; 18 – Australian Convict Sites; 19 – The Ningaloo Coast; 20 – Budj Bim Cultural Landscape National Heritage places listed since June 2016: a – Australian Cornish Mining Sites: Burra (2017); b – Australian Cornish Mining Sites: Moonta (2017); c – Abbotsford Convent (2017); d – Kamay Botany Bay: botanical collection sites (2017); e – Parramatta Female Factory and Institutions Precinct (2017); f – Melbourne's Domain Parkland and Memorial Precinct (2018); g – Queen Victoria Market (2018); h – Centennial Park (2018); I – Quinkan Country (2018); j – Erawondoo Hill (2020); k – Parkes Observatory (2020); l – Governors’ Domain and Civic Precinct (2021) Source: DAWE (2020a) Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share on Linkedin Share this link Recognition of World Heritage The rate of inscription of Australian World Heritage properties has fallen significantly in the past 10 years, with only 1 new property listed since 2011 – the Budj Bim Cultural Landscape in 2019. The slow rate of inscription was noted in 2013, with Mosley (2013) commenting that the Australian World Heritage nomination process was ‘at close to a standstill’. The reasons for this are unclear, but are likely to be due to the consolidation, extension and review of some existing World Heritage properties in this period, as well as insufficient resourcing and, possibly, poor forward planning. A commitment to updating Australia’s World Heritage tentative list in the 2015 Australian Heritage Strategy (Australian Government 2015: outcome 1) has resulted in some new actions: In 2015, the meeting of environment ministers agreed to retain the proposed extensions to the Gondwana Rainforests of Australia and K’gari/Fraser Island (Great Sandy Region) World Heritage areas on the Tentative List (on the list since 2010) agreed to explore potential nominations for Cape York noted the Northern Territory’s intention to pursue a nomination for Tjorita/West MacDonnell National Park. Murujuga Cultural Landscape, on the Dampier Archipelago and surrounds, part of Ngurra-ra Ngarli land and containing the world’s largest, densest and most diverse concentrations of rock art carvings in the world, was added to Australia’s World Heritage Tentative List in January 2020. Part of the Flinders Ranges, part of Adnyamathanha land, was added to the Tentative List in April 2021 in recognition of the rare Ediacaran fossils that represent this major stage in Earth’s history. Listing Murujuga Cultural Landscape would help to improve representation of Australian Indigenous cultural properties, and listing the Flinders Ranges will be significant global recognition of geoheritage. However, more work needs to be done to ensure recognition of cultural sites in Australia of potential World Heritage significance, and to increase the currently low international recognition of Australian places of Indigenous heritage value. A review of the thematic gaps, particularly in relation to potential cultural properties, is also considered useful given the limited historical global themes represented by Australian World Heritage listings. Condition of World Heritage The most recent International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) World Heritage outlook report (Osipova et al. 2020) concluded that, of the natural properties that were assessed by the IUCN in 2017, no properties in Oceania have improved their conservation outlook since 2017, and 5 properties, all Australian, have deteriorated: Great Barrier Reef: 2017 – significant concern; 2020 – critical Gondwana Rainforests of Australia: 2017 – good with some concerns; 2020 – significant concern Greater Blue Mountains Area: 2017 – good with some concerns; 2020 – significant concern Ningaloo Coast: 2017 – good; 2020 – good with some concerns Shark Bay, Western Australia: 2017 – good; 2020 – good with some concerns. In addition, Kakadu National Park and the Wet Tropics of Queensland are rated as being of significant concern, and Macquarie Island and the Tasmanian Wilderness rated as good with some concerns. These conclusions are particularly worrying, since the 2013 IUCN evaluation of the World Heritage List (Abdulla et al. 2013 and Bertzky et al. 2013 – cited in Mackay 2016a) identified the following natural and mixed Australian World Heritage properties as irreplaceable: Wet Tropics of Queensland (one of the 10 most irreplaceable protected areas in the world for all species, including threatened species) Kakadu, Shark Bay and the Wet Tropics of Queensland (among the 78 most irreplaceable protected areas for the conservation of the world’s amphibian, bird and mammal species) Macquarie Island, Purnululu National Park, Uluṟu–Kata Tjuṯa National Park and the Willandra Lakes Region (among the 61 irreplaceable non-biodiversity natural and mixed sites). Australia has no World Heritage properties included on the List of World Heritage in Danger. However, based on advice from the World Heritage Centre and the IUCN, the World Heritage Committee in June 2021 released a draft decision to inscribe the Great Barrier Reef on the List of World Heritage in Danger because of the ascertained danger it is facing, primarily due to climate change. This is despite many positive achievements in managing the reef and reducing its vulnerability. However, at its July 2021 meeting, the World Heritage Committee deferred the decision to 2022 (UNESCO WHC 2021b). Pressures on, and management of, World Heritage Climate change is seen as one of the most significant threats to the Outstanding Universal Value of World Heritage properties globally (UNESCO WHC 2021c) (see case study: Climate change and the Shark Bay World Heritage Area). Climate change and management of climate change pressures affecting Australian World Heritage properties have been of major concern for several years. Potential impacts on Australian World Heritage were assessed in 2009 as substantial and diverse, and likely to affect both natural and cultural attributes (ANU 2009). Identified climate change–related impacts to Australian World heritage properties in the past 5 years include: bushfires, causing loss of vegetation and other landscape impacts in the Greater Blue Mountains Area (2019–20, with 71% of the property burned) Gondwana Rainforests of Australia (2019–20) K’gari/Fraser Island (2019–20 and 2020–21, with more than 50% of the island burned) Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area (2018–19) Uluṟu–Kata Tjuṯa National Park (2017, 2018 and 2019) mass coral bleaching events in the Great Barrier Reef (2016, 2017 and 2020) (see case study: Australia’s changing reefs, in the Reef recovery and management section in the Marine chapter) Lord Howe Island Group (2019) significant seagrass dieback and marine ecosystem changes at Ningaloo Coast and Shark Bay (see case study: Climate change and the Shark Bay World Heritage Area) increased drying in the Greater Blue Mountains Area (increased rainforest and swamp drying, and drying leading to large tree dieback) Lord Howe Island Group (extreme dryness in 2018–19, leading to dieback of large trees and consequent fern dieback) vegetation community decline on Macquarie Island collapse of the endemic keystone cushion species (Azorella macquariensis) and associated bryophytes due to changes to rainfall and wind speed, and the emergence of a plant pathogen expansion of upland grass (Agrostis magellanica) into feldmark, probably in response to increased air temperatures increased habitat reduction of the mountain frogs (Philoria spp.), which are restricted to separated mountain-top refuge areas in the Gondwana Rainforests of Australia changes to saltwater and freshwater wetlands, and continued displacement of saltwater-sensitive plant species and existing freshwater-dependent wildlife in Kakadu National Park increased wetness, resulting in unprecedented flooding of floodplain fringing rock art in 2016 at Kakadu National Park more waterway sedimentation due to intense wet events after drought in the Greater Blue Mountains. The development of comprehensive vulnerability assessments and adaptation management plans for all 20 World Heritage properties in Australia is underway. A collaboration between the Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment and CSIRO commenced in 2020 to update vulnerability assessments for all 20 World Heritage properties and develop practical guidance for World Heritage property managers on vulnerability assessment through to adaptation planning. Some properties, such as the Great Barrier Reef and the Wet Tropics of Queensland, are already well advanced in their planning for climate adaptation (Wet Tropics Management Authority 2019). In addition, a Climate Vulnerability Index (CVI) to rapidly assess climate impacts on World Heritage properties, which builds on the vulnerability framework described by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, is being developed in Australia. The CVI methodology was trialled at Shark Bay (Heron et al. 2020). However, for some properties, collection of impact and condition data is also still regarded as inadequate (McConnell 2021b), and better capacity to adapt is needed. Managing tourism has also been a major issue of concern for some World Heritage properties. Tourism- or recreational-related issues in the past 5 years include (McConnell 2021b): overfishing of vulnerable species at Shark Bay development of a culturally inappropriate walkway at Kakadu reduced tourism site incomes due to the COVID-19 pandemic at the Australian Convict Sites, Royal Exhibition Building and Carlton Gardens, and the Great Barrier Reef. Also, following concerns about increasing tourism development in the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area, the World Heritage Committee recommended in 2016 that a Tourism Master Plan be developed for the property. In 2021, the World Heritage Committee requested the World Heritage Centre and advisory bodies (IUCN and ICOMOS) to review the now finalised Tourism Master Plan. While referring to the implementation of the comprehensive cultural assessment of the property, the committee also urged the avoidance of any development at the property that may affect the property’s Outstanding Universal Value (UNESCO WHC 2021d). In relation to development: the Ranger Uranium Mine has posed ongoing risks to Kakadu National Park and, now at the end of its life, requires rehabilitation (see Extractive industries) the recently approved Carmichael coalmine is seen as creating indirect potential impacts on the Great Barrier Reef the proposed raising of the Warragamba Dam wall on the edge of the Greater Blue Mountains is considered to have the potential to irreversibly impact the natural values of the property, as well as Indigenous heritage values. The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority outlook report (Leverington et al. 2019) identifies the main threat to the Great Barrier Reef as climate change, and other major threats as being coastal development, land-based run-off and direct human use (e.g. illegal fishing). The IUCN World Heritage outlook 3 report (Osipova et al. 2020) concludes that, for Oceania generally, the natural and mixed World Heritage properties have ‘mostly effective’ (64%) to ‘highly effective’ (32%) protection and management. There are no equivalent data that allow the management effectiveness of Australia’s cultural properties to be understood. Some targeted responses to specific pressures are occurring, such as the Australian World Heritage climate change impacts and vulnerability report, which will also provide a toolkit to help managers undertake adaption planning. There has also been significant action and some success in relation to the control of invasive species, including control of rats and rabbits on Macquarie Island, the near elimination of mice and rats on Lord Howe Island (see case study: Lord Howe Island Rodent Eradication Project), and the current program to control yellow crazy ants in the Wet Tropics of Queensland. However, much more needs to be done to protect Australia’s World Heritage properties and manage them for future generations. Important actions include: pursuing climate change reduction goals and developing climate change adaptation plans for all properties improving the monitoring and evaluation of condition and impacts, preferably with greater national standardisation developing values-based sustainable management criteria and guidelines for tourism, and stronger regulation for industrial development and use that may affect World Heritage and other significant natural and cultural values reviewing existing natural World Heritage places to identify whether they have cultural values of Outstanding Universal Value. Although the Australian Heritage Strategy commits to this (Australian Government 2015:outcome 1), very little action has occurred to address this matter since 2012 regular review of World Heritage property management plans in accordance with the Operational guidelines for the operation of the World Heritage Convention, and the EPBC Act and Regulations developing stronger Australian Government management, especially in relation to the identification and listing process creating long-term partnerships with the Traditional Owners of each World Heritage property that reflect the management capability relevant to the specific landscape enhancing the capacity for Indigenous voices in the management of all World Heritage properties, as well as on the Australian World Heritage Advisory Committee (AWHAC). Although improvements in recognising the rights and interests of Indigenous people in the care and management of World Heritage with Indigenous values have continued to occur, they have been slow (see Indigenous involvement in natural heritage management). The AWHAC has only 2 Indigenous members. The loss of the Australian World Heritage Indigenous Network due to a lack of funding is seen as a major step backwards, and calls have been made for its reinstatement (McConnell 2021b). National Heritage National Heritage is those aspects of the natural and cultural environment that are of ‘outstanding heritage value to the nation’ (AHC 2009). The National Heritage List has 119 places throughout Australia (DAWE 2021d); 34 of the individual places listed on the National Heritage List are also Australian World Heritage properties or part of a World Heritage property (see World Heritage). Of the 119 places on the National Heritage list: 24 have recognised natural (biological) National Heritage values 29 have natural (geoheritage) National Heritage values (but are not all specifically listed for these values) 38 have Indigenous National Heritage values 73 have historic National Heritage values. Although natural National Heritage places are less numerous than cultural heritage places, particularly historic heritage places, they are generally very large areas compared with cultural heritage places. National Heritage places are highly diverse in their nature, size and location. Examples are: the West Kimberley region the Greater Blue Mountains the Lord Howe Island Group Lesueur National Park the Ediacara Fossil Site Witjira–Dalhousie Springs Quinkan Country the Wave Hill Walk-Off Route Coranderrk the Snowy Mountains Scheme Bondi Beach the Tree of Knowledge the Australian Academy of Science Building HMS Sirius the Mawson’s Huts Historic Site. Between July 2016 and March 2021, 12 new places were added to the National Heritage List (Figure 22). Recognition of National Heritage There is considerable variation in the extent to which different national heritage values and important national themes are covered in the National Heritage List. This has been an issue over the life of the list, mainly because nominations are submitted in an ad hoc manner or to support World Heritage listing. The Australian Heritage Council, recognising thematic biases in the National Heritage List, has undertaken 8 national thematic and regional studies over the past 15 years, with 5 of these completed since 2015–16. These studies explored national Indigenous rock art heritage, benevolent institutions and defence fortification themes; and the geoheritage and cultural heritage of the Australian arid zone. An example of the deficiency of the National Heritage List in relation to its geographic and thematic coverage is the findings of Macfarlane & McConnell (2017) that, of the 15 National Heritage places occurring in the Australian arid zone in 2017, only 4 were Indigenous heritage places and 4 were historic heritage places. In contrast, they found 61 cultural places of potential National Heritage significance related to water alone. The listing of cultural heritage, particularly Indigenous heritage, is difficult because the tools used to assess places cannot recognise and list intangible heritage alone. The restriction of listed place types to single geographic entities also creates difficulties in recognising long linear places and serial or multiple place listings, leading to an imbalanced National Heritage List. For example, the Australian Convict Site World Heritage area, which comprises 11 sites, is represented by 13 National Heritage places, resulting in around half of the Tasmanian National Heritage places representing a single theme. It can also lead to the listing of a single site, potentially compromising the listing of the larger, more significant place. The recent Mithaka Cultural Landscape nomination, which potentially prejudices listing of the full Lake Eyre trade route recommended by Macfarlane & McConnell (2017), is an example. The change in relative proportions of natural, Indigenous and historic places on the priority lists in the past 5 years reflects a desire to provide a more balanced National Heritage List. However, it is unlikely that the biases and gaps in the National Heritage List can be addressed, even in the long term, given the issues and the current rate of listing. There is currently extremely limited capacity to assess nominations in a timely manner; the rate of listing over the past 10 years averaged 2.4 sites per year, and only 12 places have been included in the priority assessment list from 2016 to 2021. As at July 2020, 16 places (6 natural, 9 Indigenous and 1 historic) were on the priority assessment list, to be assessed between 2015 and 2025. This is less than in July 2016, when 26 places (4 natural, 5 Indigenous and 17 historic) were listed for assessment. At the current rate of listing, it is not possible to assess all these places until 2027. Review of the National Heritage List shows that many sites have had lengthy wait times to have their assessment completed. For example, Tjoritja/West MacDonnell National Park, nominated in 2007, is still on the list, with an assessment date of 2016, as are the Christmas Island natural areas (request to consider 2009, assessment date 2016) and the Greater Blue Mountains area, which has been waiting for assessment of additional (cultural heritage) values since 2005 (assessment date 2015) (DAWE 2021e). The current assessment process does not appear to be able to efficiently manage overlapping or multiple nominations for the same or similar place made at different times (e.g. as for the Lake Burley Griffin cultural landscape nominations). Recent changes in the requirements for World Heritage listing (for which National Heritage listing is generally a first step) mean that many of the older National Heritage nominations were submitted without the free, prior and informed consent of the relevant Indigenous communities. Consent is required for a successful listing and, unless it is provided at the time of the submission, additional investment would be required to properly consult and engage with the relevant Indigenous custodians. The National Heritage listing process is constrained by both resourcing and the prescribed processes. The large-area nominations that have been considered in recent years have been particularly resource consumptive. Mackay (2016a) pointed to the complexity of the priority assessment list process, commenting that, ‘even allowing for more complex and resource consuming recent assessments, the resources available for documentation and assessment, and the rate at which places are being added to the National Heritage List do not yet reflect the importance of the National Heritage List’ as being places of outstanding significance to the nation. The policy framework to guide the future direction of the National Heritage List proposed 5 years ago by the then Australian Government Department of the Environment and Energy (Mackay 2016a), which would assist greatly, does not seem to have eventuated. There are useful tools available for National Heritage listing, such as the (e.g. Australian Natural Heritage Assessment Tool, National Historic Thematic Framework in AHC 2001), and the various thematic and regional studies. However, they are not yet being used effectively. Most nominations are generated outside the government, and the tools do not apply to, or work well for, Indigenous heritage and geoheritage, or need updating (e.g. the National Historic Thematic Framework). Condition of National Heritage Under the EPBC Act, the state of National Heritage is required to be reviewed and reported on at least once every 5 years after the National Heritage List was established. The last national review of National Heritage places was a voluntary survey of National Heritage place managers conducted in early 2016. Place managers self-reported the current condition and trends since that place’s National Heritage listing. Only 52 (50%) of the then 104 listed National Heritage places were reported on (Wildlife Heritage & Marine Division 2017). The 2016 survey found that the condition of most of these places was considered to have remained stable, or to have improved somewhat or significantly, and that National Heritage listing had made some difference to the condition and management of the place. Although no more recent data are available, expert opinion provided to the present review (McConnell 2021a, McConnell 2021b) and the reported high pressures on National Heritage places (Wildlife Heritage & Marine Division 2017) suggest that the condition of National Heritage places is likely to have deteriorated in the past 5 years. Pressures on, and management of, National Heritage As with World Heritage, climate change, invasive species and industry pressures − including tourism − are regarded as continuing to put Australia’s National Heritage at risk, and there are similar management issues and inadequate resourcing of management. The 2016 national review of National Heritage places (Wildlife Heritage & Marine Division 2017) found that 92% of National Heritage places were considered to have experienced high to very high pressures on values: 81% experienced ‘elemental or external’ pressures (e.g. unplanned fire, pest species and pathogens) 75% experienced resourcing pressures 67% experienced climate change pressures 65% experienced visitation and use pressures. At 37% of places, development pressures were considered to pose a high to very risk to values, while 67% of places noted pressures on place authenticity and 60% noted pressures on place integrity. As with World Heritage: understanding and managing pressures are key needs for National Heritage places all National Heritage places would benefit from the development of values-based sustainable management criteria and guidelines for tourism •several National Heritage places have management plans that are due for review or are of questionable efficacy in relation to protection of values. Addressing the above needs will require significant additional resourcing. Strengthening the oversight role of the Australian Heritage Council should also be considered. Commonwealth Heritage Places on the Commonwealth Heritage List are those places owned or controlled by the Commonwealth considered to have heritage significance. The Commonwealth Heritage List contained 389 places at June 2020. These places occur across Australia and its external territories. The distribution is uneven, but reflects the locations of Commonwealth interests, with 83 Commonwealth Heritage places occurring in the Australian Capital Territory and 43 in Australia’s external territories, including the Australian Antarctic Territory, Christmas Island, Cocos (Keeling) Islands, Norfolk Island and the Timor Sea. Historic places comprise 93% of the places on the Commonwealth Heritage List. These places relate primarily to Australia since federation in 1901, particularly the defence and post-federation expansion of Australia, the evolution of Australia’s democracy, and the evolution of national communications and other services, including maritime safety, survey and research. Only 3 places are listed for their Indigenous values (with another 2 places having listed Indigenous values). Only 33 places have identified natural heritage values, although these are quite diverse and include several geoheritage places, such as the Tasmanian Seamounts, which are otherwise unlisted. Recognition of Commonwealth Heritage Since 2015, 11 new Commonwealth Heritage places have been listed. However, in the past 5 years, 12 places have been removed from the list. These removals are likely to reflect divestment of property by the Commonwealth (in which case provisions are usually made to continue protecting heritage values after removal from the list). A review of the Commonwealth Heritage List indicates that listing is ‘incomplete’, with some highly evident gaps, such as in the Australian Antarctic Territory (Atlas Cove Station on Heard Island, Casey and Wilkes stations, sealing sites on Heard Island, the Australian Antarctic Division headquarters in Kingston) and the Woomera Test Facility (including Maralinga). The nature of the Commonwealth list is strongly influenced by the initial listing, which involved the wholesale transfer of Commonwealth-owned places from the Register of the National Estate. The relative distributions of Commonwealth Heritage places and listing timings also indicate that some agencies (e.g. Australia Post) have been much more active in identifying and nominating places for Commonwealth Heritage listing than others. A review of public notices related to Commonwealth Heritage nomination and assessments shows that most listings occurred in 2004, shortly after the Commonwealth Heritage List was created. But, apart from a large number of listings of post offices in 2011, nominations appear to have been relatively few and irregular in number and type, averaging just under 3 per year (DAWE n.d.-b). Assessments have been mostly keeping up with the nominations since 2014. Although only 11 places were listed on the Commonwealth Heritage List in the past 5 years, as at February 2021, there are only 7 nominated places awaiting assessment. This contrasts significantly with the timeframes for the National Heritage List, for which the listing process is similar. Condition of Commonwealth Heritage No data are available to review the physical condition of Commonwealth Heritage places. Pressures on, and management of, Commonwealth Heritage There are no available data on the pressures on Commonwealth Heritage and the impacts of these, except where these places are also World Heritage sites (e.g. Great Barrier Reef, Ningaloo Coast, Heard and Macdonald Islands, Mawson’s Huts Historic Site). It is likely that Commonwealth Heritage places will be experiencing similar pressures and impacts to other heritage places. Places on the Commonwealth Heritage List are predominantly buildings in urban settings, or in Commonwealth ownership or control, with essential active uses. Therefore, it is likely that Commonwealth Heritage overall is less subject to the key population and industry pressures for heritage in Australia (i.e. extractive industry, tourism, introduced species, urban development and other population-related pressures). Governance is likely to be a pressure, with heritage unlikely to be seen as core business for several Australian Government agencies, resulting in inadequate policy, expertise and funding for heritage management. Significant management issues for Commonwealth Heritage include: the need for better management of climate change at vulnerable places improved management planning more collaboration between agencies with responsibility for Commonwealth Heritage places and the Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Water and Environment. Once listed, Australian Government agencies have a responsibility to identify, protect and conserve the heritage values of all properties they own or lease. The 2 key mechanisms to protect Commonwealth Heritage places are individual place management plans and agency heritage strategies. The strategies aim to integrate heritage within the agency’s overall property planning and management framework. Each Australian Government agency that owns or controls 1 or more places with Commonwealth Heritage values must prepare a heritage strategy, and these must be reviewed every 3 years and a written report provided to the minister. Of the 28 agencies with responsibility for Commonwealth Heritage places, 20 have heritage strategies in place. Agencies are doing less well in relation to place management plans, with only 205 places (53% of listed places) having a heritage management plan in place; 86 of these are due for 5-year review and 13 of these are more than 10 years old. This, and the apparent lack of Commonwealth Heritage data regarding place condition, pressures, monitoring and evaluation, suggest that oversight of Commonwealth Heritage place management by the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment is limited, but could be usefully expanded. The department has taken some recent action to improve management by updating a guide to managing Commonwealth Heritage (Australian Government 2019a). Assessment Recognition and condition of Australian heritage 2021 Limited confidence Where recognition, protection and management are high, as with World Heritage and National Heritage, the condition is generally good. Indigenous heritage, historic heritage and geoheritage are not as well recognised or protected, and are subsequently under threat. Development and climate change are key threats to all forms of heritage. Related to United Nations Sustainable Development Goal targets 11.4, 14.5, 15.1 Legend How was this assessment made Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share on Linkedin Share this link Assessment Recognition of Indigenous heritage 2021 Very limited confidence 2016 2011 Indigenous rights to heritage are not well recognised. Public awareness and perception are poor. Indigenous people strive to maintain their cultural heritage and deep connection to Country through cultural practice. Assessment Condition and integrity of Indigenous heritage 2021 Very limited confidence 2016 2011 Indigenous cultural landscapes are being destroyed and degraded. Indigenous languages are endangered, although there is Indigenous community-led language revitalisation. When Indigenous communities are empowered to protect their heritage, the condition of Indigenous heritage improves. Assessment Recognition of natural heritage 2021 Limited confidence 2016 2011 Natural heritage is well recognised across Australia, with generally adequate protections through the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (Cth) and within protected areas. The total reserve system is 483 million hectares (ha), of which 84.5 million ha are International Union for Conservation of Nature categories I or II. Assessment Condition and integrity of natural heritage 2021 Limited confidence 2016 2011 Natural heritage continues to be adversely affected by a range of pressures, with climate change having had a significant and increasing impact in the past 5 years. Assessment Recognition of geoheritage 2021 Limited confidence Geoheritage values are relatively well understood, and considerable geoheritage inventorying has been undertaken across Australia. However, there are limited protections, no statutory lists and significant gaps in the identification of geoheritage. Assessment Condition and integrity of geoheritage 2021 Limited confidence Geoheritage continues to be adversely affected by a range of pressures, with extractive industries continuing to have the greatest impact. The lack of adequate protections for geoheritage hinders impact mitigation. Relic landscapes and landforms, karst systems and coastal geoheritage are highly vulnerable. Assessment Recognition of historic heritage 2021 Somewhat adequate confidence 2016 2011 Historic heritage, including underwater cultural heritage, is well recognised across Australia, with statutory protection available at all levels of government (except for underwater cultural heritage). There is still a significant amount of unrecognised and unprotected historic heritage, but little has been done in the past 5 years to improve recognition. Historic heritage includes Indigenous heritage such as missions and sites of resistance, but these are poorly recognised. Assessment Condition and integrity of historic heritage 2021 Limited confidence 2016 2011 Historic heritage continues to be adversely affected by a range of pressures, with urban redevelopment and rural development continuing to have the greatest impact. Climate change–related adverse impacts are also increasing, mainly through bushfire, and energy and sustainability measures that do not adequately consider heritage value. Re-use and redevelopment continue to degrade integrity, particularly of local heritage. Assessment Recognition of World Heritage 2021 Limited confidence Australian World Heritage is generally well recognised, and there are strong statutory provisions for its protection. However, there are still significant gaps in the understanding of Australia’s outstanding universal values. Assessment Condition and integrity of World Heritage 2021 Limited confidence Australia’s 20 World Heritage properties have the highest level of protection and management given their significance, but their condition is deteriorating due to the ongoing and increasing pressures on World Heritage. Significant pressures for World Heritage include climate change, invasive species, tourism and recreation, and inadequate actions to mitigate impacts. Assessment Recognition of National Heritage 2021 Limited confidence National Heritage is generally well recognised, and there are relatively strong statutory provisions for its protection. However, there are still significant gaps in the understanding of Australia’s national heritage and its protection. Assessment Condition and integrity of National Heritage 2021 Limited confidence Australia’s 119 National Heritage places have a high level of protection and management. However, the condition is deteriorating due to ongoing and increasing pressures, particularly climate change, invasive species, tourism and recreation; and inadequate actions to mitigate impacts.