Tasmanian World Heritage Wilderness
In December 1982, the World Heritage Committee met at UNESCO headquarters in Paris to consider a number of sites for World Heritage listing, including the Western Tasmanian Wilderness National Parks.
The committee agreed to enter this area into the World Heritage list for its significant natural and cultural values.
In 1989 it was greatly expanded to cover almost 20 per cent of Tasmania.
December 2012 marked the 30th anniversary of the inscription of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area, nominated for its natural integrity, cultural significance and for the range of natural values extending from alpine to coastal ecosystems.
The Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area is a legacy of the last great wildernesses on earth, and a canvas rich in the stories of humanity's previous and current connections with the environment.
The 1.4 million hectares that now make up the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area are part of a chain of six national parks and a number of reserves and conservation areas that together cover one fifth of Tasmania's land mass.
The Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area is a collective merge of the following areas:
- Cradle Mountain Lake St Clair National Park
- Franklin-Gordon Wild Rivers National Park
- Southwest National Park
- Walls of Jerusalem National Park
- Hartz Mountains National Park
- Mole Creek Karst National Park (part)
- Devils Gullet State Reserve
- Liffey Falls State Reserve (part)
- Maatsuyker Island
- St Clair Lagoon Conservation Area
- Southwest Conservation Area (Melaleuca - Cox Bight section – now part of Southwest National Park)
- Meander Forest Reserve
- Liffey Forest Reserve
- Drys Bluff Forest Reserve
- Wargata Mina Cave (Aboriginal land)
- Ballawinne Cave (Aboriginal land)
- Macquarie Harbour Historic Site
- Farm Cove Game Reserve
- Central Plateau Conservation Area
- Adamsfield Conservation Area
- Marble Hill Conservation Area
- Kuti Kina Cave (Aboriginal land)
Also included are three freehold areas: 'Gordonvale' in the Vale of Rasselas; Central Plateau (approximately five blocks); and Lake Murchison .
The area received world heritage listing because it conserves a diverse array of both natural and cultural features of outstanding global significance. The region provides pristine habitats for a range of plants and animals that are found nowhere else in the world, including many rare and endangered species, while indigenous rock art and artefacts found in caves date back to the last Ice Age.
The area offers the most pristine example of temperate rainforest found in Australia and makes up one of only three remaining temperate wilderness areas in the southern hemisphere.
In cool temperate forests, deep within the wilderness of Tasmania's World Heritage Area lies one of the oldest living organisms on earth: the Huon pine. Endemic to Tasmania and found only on the West Coast, Central Plateau and Huon Valley, this slow growing tree can live for up to 3,000 years. The Huon pine is a relic of the dinosaur age, surviving for 135 million years. During colonial times, the tree was a valuable shipbuilding material because it is impervious to rot. Today, it still remains a prized material for ship building and furniture making.