|List||World Heritage List|
|Legal Status||Declared property (30/10/1981)|
|Place File No||4/00/192/0001|
|Statement of Significance|
Great Barrier Reef, one of Australia's first World Heritage Areas, was
inscribed on the World Heritage List in recognition of its outstanding natural
The Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area contains more than just coral reefs. It also contains extensive areas of seagrass, mangrove, soft bottom communities and island communities. Contrary to popular belief, the reef is not a continuous barrier, but a broken maze of coral reefs and coral cays. It includes some 2 800 individual reefs, of which 760 are fringing reefs. These reefs range in size from less than one hectare to more than 100 000 hectares, and in shape from flat platform reefs to elongated ribbon reefs.
The Great Barrier Reef provides habitats for many diverse forms of marine life. There are an estimated 1 500 species of fish and more than 300 species of hard, reef-building corals. More than 4 000 mollusc species and over 400 species of sponges have been identified.
Other well-represented animal groups include anemones, marine worms, crustaceans (prawns, crabs etc.) and echinoderms (starfish, sea urchins etc.).
The extensive seagrass beds are an important feeding ground for the dugong, a mammal species internationally listed as endangered.
The reef also supports a wide variety of fleshy algae that are heavily grazed by turtles, fish, sea urchins and molluscs.
The reef contains nesting grounds of world significance for the endangered green and loggerhead turtles. It is also a breeding area for humpback whales, which come from the Antarctic to give birth to their young in the warm waters.
The islands and cays support several hundred bird species, many of which have breeding colonies there. Reef herons, osprey, pelicans, frigate birds, sea eagles and shearwaters are among the numerous sea birds that have been recorded.
The World Heritage property is also of cultural importance, containing many middens and other archaeological sites of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander origin. Some notable examples occur on Lizard and Hinchinbrook Islands, and on Stanley, Cliff and Clack Islands where there are spectacular galleries of rock paintings.
There are over 30 historic shipwrecks in the area, and on the islands are ruins and operating lighthouses that are of cultural and historical significance.
About 98 per cent of the World Heritage Property is within the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, the remainder being Queensland waters and islands. The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park was declared in 1975 with the purpose of preserving the area's outstanding biodiversity whilst providing for reasonable use. This has been achieved using a spectrum of zones ranging from General Use Zones to Preservation Zones. In very broad terms, these zones allow ecologically sustainable activities, but all have an overriding conservation objective. Most reasonable activities such as tourism, fishing, boating, diving and research are permitted to occur but are controlled through zoning and management planning to minimise impacts and conflicts with areas of high conservation value and other users.
Today, the great majority of the Marine Park is still relatively pristine when compared with coral reef systems elsewhere in the world. An independent report published in 1997 concluded that the Reef is in good condition and is being managed effectively. These are also the findings of two major workshops to which over 100 scientists and management experts contributed. Both these workshops have now been summarised in the report titled State of the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area 1998, released in November 1998.
The Australian Government and State Government have a cooperative and integrated approach to management of the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area. The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) is the Australian Government agency responsible for overall management, and the Queensland Government, particularly the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service, provides day-to-day management to the Authority. Integrated management is also assisted by:
Includes the world's most extensive
stretch of coral reef. The reef system, extending to Papua New Guinea,
comprises some 3,400 individual reefs, including 760 fringing reefs, which
range in size from under 1ha to over 10,000ha and vary in shape to provide the
most spectacular marine scenery on earth. There are approximately 300 coral
cays, including 213 unvegetated cays, 43 vegetated
cays and 44 low wooded islands. There are also 618 continental islands which
were once part of the mainland (GBRMPA, pers. comm., 1995). |
The form and structure of the individual reefs show great variety. Two main classes may be defined: platform or patch reefs, resulting from radial growth; and wall reefs, resulting from elongated growth, often in areas of strong water currents. There are also many fringing reefs where the reef growth is established on subtidal rock of the mainland coast or continental islands (Kelleher et al., 1989).
Capricorn-Bunker Group National Park (Queensland State) encompasses a terrestrial section and consists of four islands: Fairfax Island, a coral cay consisting of two small islands on an egg-shaped reef; Hoskyn Island similar to Fairfax, though not a cay; Heron Island, sand and broken coral on coral and rock formation; and Lady Musgrave Island, a cay surrounded by extensive coral reefs.
Water circulation is very complex, governed by properties of the Coral Sea, land run-off, evaporation, the south-east trade winds, forced upwellings due to strong tidal currents in narrow reef passages and coastal waters including mangroves. Tides are generally semi-diurnal with diurnal inequality towards the north, becoming almost diurnal in Torres Strait. The maximum tidal range is about 3m along most of the coast, although increasing to 6 to 9m in the Broad Sound area between 21 degrees and 23 degrees S. Water is vertically well-mixed for most of the year with stratification occurring due to freshwater input during January to April. Freshwater run-off can be very localised and significant physical and biological effects may be expected (Kelleher et al., 1989).
Barrier Reef Marine Park Act 1975 provides for the establishment, control, care
and development of a Marine Park covering 98.5% of the Great Barrier Reef
Region as defined in that Act. Parts of Green Island (1937) and Heron Island
(1943) were gazetted as national parks under the State Forests and National
Parks Act 1903-1948 (Queensland). Heron-Wistari and Green Island Marine Parks
(1974), gazetted under the Forestry Act 1959-1976 (Queensland), were the first
Marine Parks on the reef. Areas of the region may be declared as part of the
Marine Park and subsequently zoned. In 1976 these powers were transferred to
the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1976 and Fisheries Act 1976, respectively.
The first section of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, the Capricornia
Section, was proclaimed in 1979. The Cairns and Cormorant Pass sections were
declared as part of the Marine Park in late 1981 and the remainder of the
Marine Park in subsequent years. The whole area was inscribed on the World
Heritage List in 1981.|
|Condition and Integrity Not Available|
comprising an area bounded by a line which –|
(a) commences at the point that, at low water, is the northernmost extremity of Cape York Peninsula, Queensland,:
(b) runs thence easterly along the geodesic to the intersection of parallel of Latitude 10 degrees 41 minutes South with meridian of Longitude 145 degrees East;
(c) runs thence southerly along that meridian to its intersection by the parallel of Latitude 13 degrees South;
(d) runs thence south-easterly along the geodesic to a point of Latitude 15 degrees South Longitude 146 degrees East;
(e) runs thence south-easterly along the geodesic to a point of Latitude 17 degrees 30 minutes South Longitude 147 degrees East;
(f) runs thence south-easterly along the geodesic to a point of Latitude 21 degrees South Longitude 152 degrees 55 minutes East;
(g) runs thence south-easterly along the geodesic to a point of Latitude 24 degrees 30 minutes South Longitude 154 degrees East;
(h) runs thence westerly along the parallel of Latitude 24 degrees 30 minutes South to its intersection by the coastline of Queensland at low water ; and
(i) runs thence generally northerly along that coastline at low water to the point of commencement.
Driml, S. (1999) Dollar Values and Trends of
Major Direct Uses of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park,Great Barrier Reef
Marine Park Authority, Townsville, Qld. |
Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (1994) The Great Barrier Reef, Keeping it Great: a 25 year Strategic Plan for the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area.
Lucas, P. H., Webb, T., Valentine, P. S. and Marsh, H. (1997) The Outstanding Universal Value of the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area, Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, Townsville, Qld.
Wachenfeld, D. R., Oliver, J. K. and Morrissey, J. I. 1998) State of the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area, Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, Townsville, Qld.
Report Produced Fri Dec 13 02:46:25 2013