The historic recognition of the Budj Bim Cultural Landscape at the UNESCO World Heritage Committee meeting in Azerbaijan this week underlines the significant economic, cultural and environmental benefits of World Heritage Listing.
Budj Bim is a 6,000 year old story of continuous indigenous management of the land and rivers, with a man-made aquaculture system pre dating the pyramids, and is the first Australian site recognised solely for its cultural values.
It is a story now researched, tested and recognised by international experts and one that will lift the profile of South Western Victoria as a tourist destination.
The Budj Bim listing is the result of thousands of years of stewardship by the Gunditjmara people, and a whole of government process developed with State Governments to ensure agreement over listing nominations.
In 2015, then Minister Greg Hunt, initiated whole-of-government discussions about updating Australia’s ‘tentative list’ for the next five to ten years. In December that year the Meeting of Environment Ministers agreed to explore the potential of Budj Bim.
“Budj Bim was among the first sites selected to be added to our tentative list and taken forward for World Heritage nomination. I am delighted to see it receive the recognition it truly deserves,” Minister Hunt said today.
In December 2017, then Minister for the Environment and Energy, Josh Frydenberg submitted the Budj Bim Cultural Landscape for World Heritage nomination and Saturday night in Azerbaijan saw the Australian delegation secure formal recognition.
“The Gunditjmara people have been strong advocates for the listing of Budj Bim on the UNESCO World Heritage list. Their advocacy, together with their management of country, is protecting this historic place for the benefit of future generations.”
Australia’s World Heritage listing process involves close cooperation with states, traditional owners, communities and industry.
A ‘listing’ brings global recognition and economic benefit through tourism. However, it does not impact the ownership or control of land and does not add to the protections already in place under a site’s existing National Heritage Listing, unless (as is the case with Budj Bim) the application applies to a wider area than that previously protected.
It does seek to protect the World Heritage values that are at the heart of a specific nomination and which represent significant value to Australia’s cultural heritage.
Australia announced at the World Heritage Committee meeting that it will provide seed funding of $520,000 to develop and implement a strategy to secure new funding to support for managers of natural World Heritage properties in developing countries, to assist them in improving the resilience of their properties to climate change.
This is the first major project under a $1.6 million funding package announced by the Government last year as part of Australia’s current four-year term on the World Heritage Committee.
The funding has been provided under Australia’s Official Development Assistance program.
“The scale of the challenge faced by World Heritage property managers in developing countries is huge and they need resources,” Minister Ley said
“Seed funding is designed to build the resilience of their natural World Heritage properties so they are better able to adapt to climate change.”