News & Events

July 2013: Circle Meeting, Bleichart Ropeway, Fire Stories

July 27th: Fire Stories A Lesson in Time has two screenings at Glenbrook Cinema

July 6th: BMWHI hosted the Winter Circle Forum at The Australia Museum.

The Blue Mountains World Heritage Institute has fortunately received a grant to initiate a project around the Bleichart Ropeway. This project aims to gain knowledge of the Bleichart Ropeway through community engagement and heritage field studies.

June 2013: Fire Stories - A Lesson in Time premiered!

24th June: The Blue Mountains World Heritage Institute has joined Twitter! Follow us here.

2nd June: Around 2000 attended the Fire Stories Documentary at The Edge Cinema in Katoomba. We are currently in the process of continuing the Fire Stories project into more public screenings and possibly DVDs. If you would like to know more about fire stories or sign up for updates, please view April 2013 Update.

May 2013: BMWHI Circle- Autumn Forum

11th May: The Blue Mountain World Heritage Institute hosted its autumn meeting at the World Heritage Centre at Mount Tomah Botanical Gardens in the Blue Mountains. To know more about BMWHI's circle, please follow this link.

April 2013: Community Fire Stories - A Lesson in Time - Update

We have started loading your stories onto our website - read them here

4th April: Blue Mountains Gazette has another amazing story from our movie - check out Trish Hogans Story on Page 17. http://magresources.f2.com.au/bmg/

1st April: Excitement is building for the screening of Community Fire Stories - Check out comments on Facebook from a story that ran in the Blue Mountains Gazette https://www.facebook.com/bluemountainsgazette?fref=ts

The Edge will be screening Communtiy Fire Stories - A Lesson in Time on Sunday June 2nd from 3pm. Free Entry.

February 2013: Community Fire Stories - A Lesson in Time

The Blue Mountains World Heritage Institute is undertaking a very special project called Community Fire Stories – A Lesson in Time. As such, the Institute is researching historic records as well as seeking interviews with local people who experienced the 1957 Leura Fire.

This devastating fire turned much of Leura into what has been described as a “flaming ruin”, destroying around 170 homes, businesses, schools and churches. The same fire destroyed a further 28 homes and buildings in Wentworth Falls. Evidence of the fire’s destructive path can be seen at the north/east corner of the Leura Mall and Great Western Highway roundabout, where remanent bricks, stone and concrete of the burnt-out ruins of the grand guest house Chateau Napier are still present.

The project will document and distribute the research in a short documentary film as well as a publication to capture the extraordinary human stories surrounding these fires and their aftermath. The film will be produced by filmmaker Laura Zusters, daughter of renowned Blue Mountains artist Reinis Zusters.

The documentary will premiere May-June of this year, as part of a community event where local residents will have the opportunity to reflect on how fire prepared we are as individuals and as a community.

Anyone who experienced the 1957 Leura Fires and would like to share their story, please contact:Carol Ang at: Carol.Ang@bmwhi.org.au. For more information on the project itself please contact Peter Shadie, BMWHI Research Manager at: p.shadie@bmwhi.org.au.

Community Fire Stories is being guided by a committee of stakeholders including Federal Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities, the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage, NSW Rural Fire Service and Blue Mountains City Council.

July 2012: Forum Held in Blue Mountains to address Phythophthora Threat

The Blue Mountains World Heritage Institute, in collaboration with the Blue Mountains region of the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH), recently held an important forum at the Fairmont Resort in the Blue Mountains on June 21, 2012.

We work with researchers, land managers and the community to find science-based solutions to conservation challenges in the Greater Blue Mountains. This forum brought together more than 50 concerned scientists and land managers from across Australia to address the emerging threat of the plant pathogen Phytophthora to ecosystems in the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area.

Phytophthora (Phytophthora cinnamomi) is a soil-borne root-rot fungus that has had significant impacts on native vegetation in many parts of Australia. Most recently it has emerged as a growing threat to ecosystems in eastern Australia. The fungus survives for long periods in water, soil and plant roots attacking susceptible plant species. It is formally listed as a threatening process in national legislation and various state laws. Phytophthora is known to occur within large sections of the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area (GBMWHA) west of Sydney.

This forum was a key step in informing management responses by the OEH Blue Mountains Region and other land management agencies in the Mountains. Authorities are rapidly trying to get an assessment of the extent of the Phytophthora threat and to understand how their operations need to be adapted to reduce its further spread.

Speakers from the University of Sydney, Murdoch University in WA, the Australian Public Service Commission and the OEH outlined the state of research knowledge, the potential for Phytophthora spread and the management response options that are realistic in the Australian context. The pathogen is known to spread through human activities (soil movement on boots, bikes, tools, machinery and vehicles) and known to move from ridge tops down water courses. There is also concern about the emerging threat of increasingly virulent forms of Phytophthora under various climate change scenarios.

Considerable research effort has been taking place within the GBMWHA in the past few years. A post-graduate research student, Zoe-Joy Newby (University of Sydney and Botanic Gardens Trust, and supported by the Blue Mountains World Heritage Institute), has spent the last two years collecting soil samples from across the million hectares of the World Heritage Area. Closely linked to this research is an OEH Caring for Our Country project on Phytophthora that is identifying and prioritizing locations most at risk. Raising awareness and implementing approaches to managing this threat are underway based on a precautionary approach.

Public awareness is one of the most important ways to reduce the spread of the pathogen. The key message for people visiting the Blue Mountains will be based on good hygiene practice to limit the spread of Phytophthora and other threats.

For further information, please contact the Blue Mountains World Heritage Institute on 9385 5653 or bmwhi@bmwhi.org.au

February 2012: Investment in BMWHI provides four-fold returns

BMWHI has recently undertaken a review of its value and return on investment to provide an assessment of how well our organisation is helping to protect the world heritage values of the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area (GBMWHA).

Analysis of the results shows that, since the Institute’s establishment in 2004, over $2.4m worth of informative research and community engagement activities focused on the World Heritage Area and its environs has been delivered. This is a conservative figure comprising external cash grants, student research (PhD, Masters and Honours), internships and educational forums.  The total annual investment by members (including OEH) is approximately $100,000 per annum, yielding a 4:1 return on member investment for this period.  

In addition the Institute provides significant social return in areas such as:

  • fundraising that complements member efforts;
  • partnership building and community engagement on behalf of members;
  • facilitating inquiry into challenging management issues;
  • advice on World Heritage in general;
  • national and international exposure; and
  • access to national and international literature, best practice and knowledge.

The analysis confirms the cost-benefit of the Institute. Every $1 invested in BMWHI returns $4 directed toward protecting the critical world heritage values of the 1million hectare GBMWHA.

In 2012, BMWHI will focus on improving services to members and further developing mutually beneficial partnerships between science, policy, management and the community. The Institute will continue to elaborate on research around its three Flagship Programs, which aim to address significant conservation challenges for our precious world heritage area.


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