PORT Stephens would get the same recognition as Kakadu, the Blue Mountains and the Great Barrier Reef if a bid for world heritage listing is successful.
The bold plan stems from an unsuccessful attempt to prevent the state government’s sale of the Mambo wetlands at Salamander Bay last year.
The area under consideration covers 7000 square kilometres and extends from the Port Stephens headwaters to the Barrington Tops.
“It’s an area with enormous biodiversity; there are more mangroves in Port Stephens than any other area in the state,” Marine Park Association member Frank Future said.
“It is also relatively unscathed by urban development and mining.”
The association is presently doing a scientific literature review for its application.
Mr Future said having an area registered on the world heritage list could produce many benefits for the region and local communities.
“In the case of properties such as the Tasmanian Wilderness, Kakadu and Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Parks and the Great Barrier Reef, World Heritage listing has featured in promotions that have resulted in greatly increased tourist visitation from overseas and within Australia,” he said.
The proposed area would incorporate the Barrington Tops National Park, Booti Booti National Park, Hunter Wetlands National Park, Myall Lakes National Park and Tomaree National Park.
It includes 20 species of threatened birds, eight species of threatened mammals, seven species of threatened frogs and snakes and at least 19 species of threatened or critically endangered plants.
“We are taking a whole of estuary approach. The area has enormous cultural and environmental significance,” Mr Future said.
“We are taking a whole of estuary approach. The area has enormous cultural and environmental significance."Frank Future
World Heritage listing does not affect ownership rights, which remain as they were prior to nomination. State and local laws still apply.
World Heritage properties do not become Commonwealth property, nor do they become the property of any international body or foreign power.
New applications for World Heritage listing are assessed annually by the United Nation’s Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation based in Paris.