by Rock Art Network
14 December 2023
An article by Jesmine Cheong and Charlie Mills on abc.net.au - Application 'error' delays UNESCO World Heritage List application for Burrup Peninsula - reports that the application for the Burrup Peninsula to become a UNESCO World Heritage site has been delayed as the federal government's initial application was invalid due to issues with mapping the region, causing disappointment and worry among the local traditional owners about the site's future.
A Pilbara traditional owner says she believes gaining World Heritage status for the Burrup Peninsula may be out of reach in the wake of a setback in the application process. The federal government's application to UNESCO has been met with delays, after the United Nations body found the initial application to be invalid. The government nominated the Burrup Peninsula in January, with hopes the area could be listed as early as next year.
The delay could mean the peninsula, which is home to one of the world's most significant collections of rock art, might not be listed until 2025. The peninsula is also home to multiple large energy projects, including processing facilities for Woodside's Burrup Hub Scarborough gas project, which the energy giant is looking to expand.
A federal government spokesperson said its current application was deemed to be incomplete, due to "issues relating to map boundaries and topography". "This was due to the fact that Western methods of mapping don't allow for Indigenous understanding of cultural values, boundaries and knowledge," the spokesperson said. The spokesperson said the application was now complete and valid but would not confirm when it was submitted. The federal government refused to answer specific questions on the process of the application.
University of Western Australia Professor of Archaeology Ben Smith said he was "disappointed" that the nomination did not provide all the necessary information. Comment