There are currently 19 UNESCO World Heritage Listed sites in Australia and Fraser Island is one of them. UNESCO began the World Heritage Convention in 1972 to protect the world’s most remarkable places. Fraser Island was added to the World Heritage list in 1992 due to its natural greatness. Let’s see what’s so special about the island which in now facing threat from bushfires.
Fraser Island lies just off the east coast of Australia. At 122 km long, it is the largest sand island in the world. Majestic remnants of tall rainforest growing on sand and half the world’s perched freshwater dune lakes are found inland from the beach. The combination of shifting sand-dunes, tropical rainforests and lakes makes it an exceptional site.
Fraser Island’s UNESCO listing cites that the island “has exceptional natural beauty with over 250 km of clear sandy beaches with long, uninterrupted sweeps of ocean beach, strikingly coloured sand cliffs, and spectacular blowouts.
Heritage site listing
To attain a World Heritage listing, there are certain criteria to be met. Fraser Island currently meets 3 of the 4 natural criteria as required by UNESCO:
• contain superlative natural phenomena or areas of exceptional natural beauty and aesthetic importance;
• to be outstanding examples representing major stages of earth’s history, including the record of life, significant on-going geological processes in the development of landforms, or significant geomorphic or physiographic features;
World Heritage Listing means that the Commonwealth is required to maintain the natural integrity of the island. 99% of Fraser Island is national park that is protected
There are 47 other species of mammals including the Swamp Wallaby, Small Eared Mountain Possum and the Sugar Glider.
More than 354 species of birds have been sighted. The island has a wide range of habitats providing different food sources, nesting and breeding areas.
The island is home to 79 species of reptiles, including 19 kinds of snake. The most commonly seen reptiles are the Sand Monitor and the Lace Monitor.
Climate change impact
Stretching a huge 120 kilometers in length, Fraser Island is the largest sand island in the world. The sand dunes found on Fraser Island have served scientists for years, showcasing as a record of 7,00,000 years of climate change and sea level changes. It is the only place on the planet where Rainforest has grown on sand dunes higher than 200m above sea level.
Bushfire threat now
A bushfire has burned across half the Fraser Island with potentially catastrophic consequences for its habitats and wildlife.Dozens of residents of were urged to evacuate as the blaze raged east across the Island. The bushfire was sparked by an illegal campfire has burnt through over half of the island – about 83,000 hectares. It has a population of fewer than 200 permanent residents.
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