Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area

Did you know that less than 50 kilometres from Sydney is an area that is ten times older than the Grand Canyon with a 40,000 year-old human history, and contains majestic mountains, cathedral caves, deep river gorges and valleys of water cascading into prehistoric rainforests?

It is the World Heritage Listed Greater Blue Mountains Area, comprising of eight national parks and protected areas. Covering more than 1 million wild hectares right on the doorstep of Australia’s largest metropolis, it is the equivalent of having three Yosemite National Parks on the outskirts of San Francisco or Los Angeles!

Its value cannot be underestimated.

One of the main projects that will be showcased to global Congress attendees is the Low Carbon Tourism: Building Sustainable Communities initiative which is being run by the Blue Mountains World Heritage Institute, a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to research and community engagement in the GBMWHA.

The initiative is an economic and behavioural change program that is being trialled in the Blue Mountains region and seeks to partner with the tourism sector to ensure the Blue Mountains become a low carbon tourism destination. It is based around the premise that the Blue Mountains community live and work within a highly sensitive World Heritage region and that its long term financial, social, and ecological sustainability rely upon a regional tourism industry that is sustainable.

Tourism in the Blue Mountains is big business. The Blue Mountains is Australia’s largest regional tourism destination with annual visitation of 3,430,000 of which 21% is international. The sector contributes nearly $500 million p.a. to the Blue Mountain’s regional economy and creates more than 5,000 jobs.

The initiative is working with local businesses to reduce their carbon footprint as well as with tourists themselves to encourage them to make low carbon choices when it comes to tourism services and products.

Across the Australian landscape, large-scale environmental efforts are increasingly involving multi-partner collaboration. The new wave of conservation involves many stakeholders thinking collaboratively about the landscape, its value, the multiple pressures and the inspiring solutions to meeting the challenges.

The Low Carbon Tourism project is a good example of the importance of such projects engaging business operators, community members, NGOs and government agencies to help conserve the stunning Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area.

To learn more visit http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/917; www.bmwhi.org.au; or http://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/nationalparks/region.aspx?name=Blue-Mountains

Peter Shadie
Research Manager
Blue Mountains World Heritage Institute
p.shadie@bmwhi.org.au

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