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Located only 50 km away from Sydney, the Blue Mountains are absolutely enormous. Spreading over a sweeping area of 10,000 square kilometres, this place is Australia’s most beautiful natural wonder. We all know that Australia had separated from the rest of the world and drifted towards the southern hemisphere thousands of years ago. However, this gave the chance for unique flora and fauna to develop on this continent. And the Blue Mountains is a living example of those. In November 2000, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) has listed this place as Australia’s 14th World Heritage Area. However, the question that might wonder you is “what has made the Blue Mountains on the World Heritage List”? Stick with us, as we will take you through the answer!
What is World Heritage?
The UNESCO confers the tile of the world heritage site to the places on earth that possess outstanding universal value, in terms of history, science, and culture. Places that are listed under the World Heritage sites are protected and conserved for the future generation to appreciate. Only those destinations that are diverse and unique are included in this list. Some well-known world heritage sites include:
- The Taj Mahal, India
- The Great Pyramids, Egypt
- The Grand Canyon, the USA
- The Blue Mountains, Australia, and so on
The Criteria for Heritage listing by UNESCO
After understanding what is a World Heritage Site, we will now explore the criteria for World Heritage Listing. The UNESCO follows the Operational Guidelines for the Implementation of the World Heritage Convention for the criteria of selection. Initially, there were 6 criteria until the end of 2004. However, with the adoption of the revised version of the convention, 4 added criteria were included making the total of 10 factors (6 cultural and 4 natural).
To get listed as a world heritage site, a destination/ building need to:
- Be a masterpiece of human creative genius
- Exhibit an important interchange of human values
- Bear an exceptional testimony to a cultural tradition
- An outstanding example of a type of building
- An outstanding example of a traditional human settlement, land use, etc.
- Be directly or tangibly associated with events or living traditions
- Contain superlative natural phenomena
- Be outstanding examples representing major stages of earth’s history
- Be outstanding examples representing significant ongoing ecological and biological processes
- Contain the most important and significant natural habitats for in-situ conservation of biological diversity
How the Blue Mountains categorized under heritage listing
In the aforementioned section, we have already stated that the Blue Mountains of Australia house the continent’s unique flora and fauna. And it is this biological diversity that has listed the Blue Mountains on the world heritage list. The Blue Mountains is the house to over 400 species of animals, 100 species of eucalyptus, and other a and fauna that are significant for Australia.
An easy Blue Mountain Day trip from Sydney can take you to the world of breathtaking natural views, waterfalls cascading over the cliffs, rugged terrain, deep valley and gorges, and marshy swamps. The Greater Blue Mountain area includes around 8 national parks and is a part of the Great Dividing Range. It might interest you to learn that the entire place is so enormous that some of its areas are still remote and inaccessible.
Here we have listed some of the factors that have put the Blue Mountains on the world heritage list.
One of the main reasons that Blues Mountains have made its place in the World Heritage list is due to its biodiversity. There are several natural hidden gems in this area, which you can visit as a part of your Blue Mountains tours from Sydney. One of such gems is relic species is the Wollemi Pine, an endangered and rare species of pine trees found in the remote part of the Blue Mountains. Other spectacular sites here include the Three Sisters, Wentworth Falls, and so on.
The Blue Mountains area also offers unique soil and landscape most favourable for the Australian flora and fauna to adapt and evolve. You will be surprised to learn that this place is the home to many rare and endangered species like
- Fauna– Tiger Quoll, Blue Mountain Water Skink, Koala, etc.
- Flora– Mountain Devil, Banksia, Flannel Flower, Waratah, etc.
Apart from the biological diversity, the Blue Mountains also possess cultural significance. Why we are saying this? Because this place is the home to the Aboriginal people and their community. The Blue Mountains area includes six Aboriginal language groups out of which the two most important tribes are the Gundungurra and Darug. What more? Here the travellers can also witness Aboriginal rock art and engravings. So, if you plan to visit this place, you can surely make arrangements to walk through the region’s rich past and cultural heritage.
In conclusion, we can say that the biodiversity and cultural significance have put the Blue Mountains on the world heritage list. However, this place suffered a lot during the 2019/2020 bushfires, which had buried around 60% of the Greater Blue Mountains. But hope springs eternal, as this World Heritage Site is again coming back to life and life here is again emerging from the ashes.