Australia's national heritage comprises exceptional natural and cultural places that contribute to Australia's national identity. National heritage defines the critical moments in our development as a nation and reflects achievements, joys and sorrows in the lives of Australians. It also encompasses those places that reveal the richness of Australia's extraordinarily diverse natural heritage.
The National Heritage List has been established to list places of outstanding heritage significance to Australia. It includes natural, historic and Indigenous places that are of outstanding national heritage value to the Australian nation.
One tool for assessing the natural heritage values of places nominated for inclusion on the National Heritage list is the Australian Natural Heritage Assessment Tool (ANHAT)
The National Heritage List is compiled and maintained by the Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities and can be searched using the Australian Heritage Database.
Anyone can nominate a place with outstanding heritage values for inclusion on the National Heritage List. The Australian Heritage Council assesses the values of nominated places against set criteria and makes recommendations to the Minister for the Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities (the Minister) about listing. The final decision on listing is made by the Minister.
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When a place is nominated to be included on the National Heritage List, the Australian Heritage Council assesses the heritage value of that place against nine criteria, and significance thresholds.
Listed places are protected by Australian Government laws and special agreements with state and territory governments and with Indigenous and private owners. Places on the list are protected under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act), which requires that approval be obtained before any action takes place that could have a significant impact on the national heritage values of a listed place.
To ensure the on-going protection of a national heritage place, National Heritage listing requires that a management plan be produced that sets out how the heritage values of the site will be protected or conserved.