Site: Macquarie Island
What is your personal relation to the marine WHS you represent?
I have a very strong personal relation with the Tasmanian World Heritage Areas and the Southern Ocean. I grew up in Tasmania walking many trails and experiencing the rich variety of marine life. Macquarie Island and the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area protects some of the last true wilderness regions. They protect vast tracts of high quality wilderness, which harbours a wealth of outstanding natural and cultural heritage. Some of the marine habitats include kelp forests, seagrass beds and sponge gardens each with their own communities of fish and invertebrates. The geographical position and varying climatic conditions of this southern latitude, together with the influence of ocean currents, combine to produce a marine environment recognised as one of the most biologically diverse in the world. About 80–90% of species of most marine groups are endemic. The intertidal and subtidal areas of Macquarie Island support extensive and luxurious growths of seaweeds. There are more than twice the number of underwater plants species than terrestrial species. A total of 103 benthic macro algae species have been recorded, mostly red and brown algae. I have a specific interest in identifying indicator algal species which reflect anthropogenic impact. These experiences have lead me to focus on macro algal taxonomy and community characteristics in my own research.
What are the specific problems and threats of your marine WHS?
Human alteration of the marine environment through direct and indirect means is increasing, causing major stress on aquatic ecosystems, placing marine biodiversity at serious risk. In broad terms the marine environment is at risk from (but are not limited to) pollution from industrial, urban, aquacultural, agricultural and mining sources; siltation and sedimentation from land clearance, polluted discharges; over-exploitation of the biological resources of freshwater and marine systems; tourism impacts; intentional introduction of non-native species for recreation or commercial production; toxic dinoflagellates in marine waters and climate change). Macquarie Island and the Tasmanian World Heritage Area are vulnerable to many of these stressors. A major concern is to the Tasmanian WHAs the introduction and spread of organisms to new places and habitats where they can become nonnative invaders. Even WHAs recognised for their global significance are at isk from invasive species through ship ballast water containing exotic species, or on the hulls of vessels. If we are serious about conserving coastal and marine biodiversity then we must have strong governance. Having well managed WHAs will allow biodiversity safeguarding and preserve recourses as a buffer against many impacts thus preserving livelihoods.
Why do you think is it important to safeguard your marine WHS?
Natural heritage in our marine World Heritage Areas are irreplaceable sources of life and inspiration. Macquarie Island is a site of outstanding geological and natural significance. Each year 3.5 million seabirds and 80,000 elephant seals arrive to breed and moult. The rocky intertidal and subtidal areas support many endemic species of seaweeds and benthic fauna. The Tasmanian World Heritage Area supports incredible temperate rainforest and alpine vegetation and its landforms are of immense beauty. It is incredibly important to protect, conserve natural key ecosystems. Humans have already affected almost all terrestrial and freshwater habitats and almost half of all natural terrestrial ecosystems have been destroyed or severely damaged. Anthropogenic activities in many forms are altering coastal ecosystems and it our duty to increase public awareness, involvement and support for World Heritage through communication and education. It is our duty to recognize and ensure the identification, preservation and transmission of nature for future generations. Preservation of Macquarie Island, the Tasmanian Wilderness and all allocated World Heritage Areas acts as a safeguard against vested interests such as polluters and coastal developers. This is just one conservation strategy in which politicians and community leaders can take to ensure a healthier planet for future generations.