Greater Blue Mountains Area

S33 42 0 E150 0 0
Date of Inscription: 2000
Criteria: (ix)(x)
Property : 1,032,649 ha
Buffer zone: 86,200 ha
Ref: 917
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The Greater Blue Mountains Area consists of 1.03 million ha of sandstone plateaux, escarpments and gorges dominated by temperate eucalypt forest. The site, comprised of eight protected areas, is noted for its representation of the evolutionary adaptation and diversification of the eucalypts in post-Gondwana isolation on the Australian continent. Ninety-one eucalypt taxa occur within the Greater Blue Mountains Area which is also outstanding for its exceptional expression of the structural and ecological diversity of the eucalypts associated with its wide range of habitats. The site provides significant representation of Australia’s biodiversity with ten percent of the vascular flora as well as significant numbers of rare or threatened species, including endemic and evolutionary relict species, such as the Wollemi pine, which have persisted in highly-restricted microsites.

The Greater Blue Mountains Area (GBMA) is a deeply incised sandstone tableland that encompasses 1.03 million hectares of eucalypt-dominated landscape just inland from Sydney, Australia’s largest city, in south-eastern Australia.  Spread across eight adjacent conservation reserves, it constitutes one of the largest and most intact tracts of protected bushland in Australia.  It also supports an exceptional representation of the taxonomic, physiognomic and ecological diversity that eucalypts have developed: an outstanding illustration of the evolution of plant life.  A number of rare and endemic taxa, including relict flora such as the Wollemi pine, also occur here.  Ongoing research continues to reveal the rich scientific value of the area as more species are discovered.

The geology and geomorphology of the property, which includes 300 metre cliffs, slot canyons and waterfalls, provides the physical conditions and visual backdrop to support these outstanding biological values.  The property includes large areas of accessible wilderness in close proximity to 4.5 million people.  Its exceptional biodiversity values are complemented by numerous others, including indigenous and post-European-settlement cultural values, geodiversity, water production, wilderness, recreation and natural beauty.

Criterion (ix): The Greater Blue Mountains include outstanding and representative examples in a relatively small area of the evolution and adaptation of the genus Eucalyptus and eucalypt-dominated vegetation on the Australian continent.  The site contains a wide and balanced representation of eucalypt habitats including wet and dry sclerophyll forests and mallee heathlands, as well as localised swamps, wetlands and grassland.  It is a centre of diversification for the Australian scleromorphic flora, including significant aspects of eucalypt evolution and radiation. Representative examples of the dynamic processes in its eucalypt-dominated ecosystems cover the full range of interactions between eucalypts, understorey, fauna, environment and fire.  The site includes primitive species of outstanding significance to the evolution of the earth’s plant life, such as the highly restricted Wollemi pine (Wollemia nobilis) and the Blue Mountains pine (Pherosphaera fitzgeraldii).  These are examples of ancient, relict species with Gondwanan affinities that have survived past climatic changes and demonstrate the highly unusual juxtaposition of Gondwanan taxa with the diverse scleromorphic flora.

Criterion (x): The site includes an outstanding diversity of habitats and plant communities that support its globally significant species and ecosystem diversity (152 plant families, 484 genera and c. 1,500 species).  A significant proportion of the Australian continent’s biodiversity, especially its scleromorphic flora, occur in the area.  Plant families represented by exceptionally high levels of species diversity here include Myrtaceae (150 species), Fabaceae (149 species), and Proteaeceae (77 species).  Eucalypts (Eucalyptus, Angophora and Corymbia, all in the family Myrtaceae) which dominate the Australian continent are well represented by more than 90 species (13% of the global total).  The genus Acacia (in the family Fabaceae) is represented by 64 species.  The site includes primitive and relictual species with Gondwanan affinities (Wollemia, Pherosphaera, LomatiaDracophyllumAcrophyllum, Podocarpus and Atkinsonia) and supports many plants of conservation significance including 114 endemic species and 177threatened species.

The diverse plant communities and habitats support more than 400 vertebrate taxa (of which 40 are threatened), comprising some 52 mammal, 63 reptile, over 30 frog and about one third (265 species) of Australia’s bird species.  Charismatic vertebrates such as the platypus and echidna occur in the area.  Although invertebrates are still poorly known, the area supports an estimated 120 butterfly and 4,000 moth species, and a rich cave invertebrate fauna (67 taxa).

Suggested Bases:

Wollongong is a city in the Illawarra region of New South Wales. Heading south, Wollongong starts where Sydney finishes. It is the third largest city in the state behind Sydney and Newcastle and is thinly wedged on a coastal plain between an escarpment and the Pacific Ocean. It is pronounced Wool-un-gong. Geography defines Wollongong, as the city is never more than roughly 6 km at its widest but stretches over 40 km from south to north. Its growth was limited by mountains, which are not so much high as steep, and the sea, Wollongong has grown to include a whole chain of coastal towns, from Dapto and Port Kembla in the south to Bulli, Austinmer, and even up to Stanwell Park in the north. Continuous development has stretched the urban area along the coast as far as Kiama in the distant south but those areas are serviced by the growing centre of Shellharbour [read more].

Sydney is the Harbour City, and is the largest, oldest and most cosmopolitan city in Australia with an enviable reputation as one of the world’s most beautiful and liveable cities. Brimming with history, nature, culture, art, fashion, cuisine and design, it is set next to miles of ocean coastline and sandy surf beaches. The city is also home to the Sydney Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge, two of the most iconic structures on the planet. Sydney is a major global city and an important finance centre in the Asia-Pacific region. The city is surrounded by nature and national parks, which extend through the suburbs and right to the shores of the harbour. Sydney has a compact city core surrounded by sprawling suburbs, forming a vast metropolitan area. The city core, Central Sydney is shaped roughly like a stubby palm-up left hand: the heel of the thumb as City South, the thumb as the district Darling Harbour, the first finger as The Rocks, the palm with the second and third fingers as City Centre and the rest as City East [read more].

Newcastle is a city at the mouth of the Hunter River, approximately 150 km north of Sydney in the Hunter region of New South Wales, Australia. The city is the focal point for the diverse Hunter region that encompasses beaches and mountains, restaurants and wineries. Newcastle is a great place for surfers, wine buffs, bush walkers, and anyone interested in Australian history. The second largest city in the state of NSW and sixth largest in Australia, Newcastle city had a population of 153,000 and the suburban area of over 500,000. Similar to its English namesake, Newcastle was an important centre for the coal mining and iron ore industries. Newcastle is Australia’s oldest sea port, and the second most important in the country in terms of overall tonnage, and significant for coal exports. Many Novocastrians take an avid interest in sports, as participants, spectators or both. The local NRL Rugby League team, the Newcastle Knights are widely followed [read more].

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