the 2008 WHC session, "further requests the State Party to consider, at its own discretion, extension of the property to include appropriate cultural sites reflecting the wider context of Aboriginal land-use practices, and the possibility of re-nominating the property as a cultural landscape."
Looking back through the documentation for this nomination, its evaluations and many extensions (4, of which 3 count as "minor" in relation to the total size of the site)......there appears to have been a long running and continuing "spat" between ICOMOS and Australia on this site which explains these 2 quotes from 2008 and 10 respectively!!!
When it was inscribed as a "Mixed" Site way back in 1982 (long before the introduction of "Cultural Landscapes") ICOMOS wasn't happy with the Cultural aspects of the Nomination, stating "that the elements of the cultural heritage included in the proposal for the Western Tasmania Parks do not, in themselves offer sufficient reason to inscribe this cultural property on the World Heritage List but simply constitute new positive elements which supplement the already favourable report of IUCN"
This would not of course have prevented inscription under Natural criteria but, quite how the site then got inscribed as "Mixed" (and with 3 "Cultural criteria as well!) given the ICOMOS recommendation, isn't clear. From comments in the later 1989 extension evaluation, it appears that ICOMOS was ignored (but went along with this reluctantly?) because the site needed to be inscribed in order to combat the likelihood of dam construction - a necessary step for placing it on the "In danger list" and thus increasing pressures to stop such developments - though a purely "natural" nomination could surely have achieved this objective just as well? In any case Australia never did request the site to be placed on the "In Danger" list!!
In its evaluation for the extension in 1989, ICOMOS went along with the extension for "Natural" reasons but recorded that the "proposal to extend the area for inclusion offers ICOMOS a good opportunity to clarify its position regarding the cultural components of vast natural areas of incontestable value
".....it then repeats its view that the whole area needs properly investigating and evaluating on Cultural criteria!
The 2010 ("minor") extension arose because of a "State of Conservation Report" in 2008 which asked Australia to extend the site to protect its natural values and also to "consider, at its own discretion, extension of the property to include appropriate cultural sites reflecting the wider context of Aboriginal land-use practices, and the possibility of re-nominating the property as a cultural landscape
" (ICOMOS was a member of the mission producing the 2008 report and this recommendation has its "fingerprints" all over it).
The extension which emerged was, as ICOMOS puts it, "drafted from a natural perspective only. (and needed) ...a little more research and documentation and consideration of the disposition of cultural sites
". ICOMOS repeated its views which appear to have been "eating away" in its soul for 18 years!!! "No information has been provided by the State Party as to the inclusion within these areas of cultural attributes of Aboriginal importance, nor have the boundaries been justified in relation to cultural attributes.
But Australia wouldn't "play ball" on further extensions for Cultural reasons (especially as it was given a let out - "At its own discretion
"!) so, ICOMOS rather huffily noted in 2010 that "the proposed modification to the boundary of the property includes only one significant Aboriginal site, Warragarra Cave (Mersey Block 1 or 2) and thus cannot be said to significantly improve coverage of Aboriginal sites
". ICOMOS didn't oppose the extension accepted by IUCN for Natural reasons and merely contented itself with making a few barbed comments about Australia needing to "augment its staff with cultural heritage specialists"
The next minor boundary enhancement took place in 2012 and ICOMOS was quite pleased to note that it included "cultural sites which complement those already within the property. It includes coastal and other sites of importance to the Aboriginal community as well as the Needwonnee cultural walk.... (which) demonstrates how the Aboriginal community lived in and managed this area, which has importance as the landscape that contains the creation story for Tasmanian Aborigines.
" The official decision accepting the modification repeated the wish for Australia to continue developing the Cultural aspects of the site.
The 2013 (and latest) boundary amendment proposal however was recommended for referral by ICOMOS - "It does not address cultural values
". It was, however, accepted with "actions" placed on Australia to pursue improving Cultural aspects .... and these were still present (with some progress) as recently as 2021. The request to develop the site as a "Cultural Landscape" has NOT been repeated since 2010. Whether this is because ICOMOS accepts that re-nomination as a CL is NOT necessary to achieve its objectives or it prefers (for the time being at least?) to concentrate on achieving changes on the ground which work towards its objectives of gaining "proper" cultural recognition and protection etc of the Aboriginal heritage isn't clear!
A wider question in relation to the topic of this Forum relates to what changes to the boundaries, management routines etc inscription as a CL would have had on the site as it exists today. What does being a "CL" rather than a series of "Archaeological sites" add to a WHS? ICOMOS clearly thought it did at the time.
Finally Els – the original decision to inscribe on Cultural criteria despite the ICOMOS rejection would seem to justify a mention in the history and/or under "controversial at inscription"?