News & Events
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: Laura Zusters at: email@example.com or phone: 0412 913 271. For more information on the project itself please contact Peter Shadie, BMWHI Research Manager at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 email@example.com
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.
November 2011: PhD Scholarship Opportunity - The ecology and policy of wild dog management in the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area (GBMWHA)
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The Blue Mountains World Heritage Institute (BMWHI) has a PhD project available to investigate the behavioural ecology of wild dogs in the Greater Blue Mountains of NSW. Wild dogs include dingoes (Canis lupus dingo), feral domestic dogs (C. l. familiaris), and their hybrids. As well as field-based ecological research, this project will attend to the broader policy-related issues including the range of stakeholder perspectives influencing decision-making for local wild dog management. The project will seek to provide critical information that can assist land managers.
The successful applicant will need to secure an Australian Postgraduate Award and will be offered a top-up by the Institute of $10,000 p.a. for 3 years.
Wild dog management that integrates biodiversity conservation with livestock production is a major ecological and socio-political challenge in Australia, as it is for wild carnivores worldwide. While dingoes have partial protection in select areas of the GBMWHA, they are culled near the boundary of the reserve where they threaten livestock production. The GBMWHA has an extensive border with agricultural lands as well as a significant urban interface. As such, the presence of wild dogs in this region presents conflict with both rural and urban communities. One of the research aims will be to compare the behaviour of undisturbed dingoes in the core of the reserve with those subject to control near boundaries with pastoral and urban land. Specific research questions will be developed in consultation with the supervisors, BMWHI and relevant land managers and wild dog management groups.
The position would suit someone with a First Class Honours (in biological science or related field) and a keen interest (prior experience not required) in sociology and policy processes. The student will be based in the School of Biological, Earth & Environmental Sciences at the University of New South Wales under the supervision of Dr Mike Letnic (UNSW) and co-supervision of Dr Rosalie Chapple (BMWHI). Fieldwork would be primarily conducted in core areas in the southern part of the reserve and in the control zone along the south-western boundary, and at the urban interface of the Blue Mountains. An ability to work in remote locations is a necessary pre-requisite, as well as engaging with a diverse range of stakeholders.
The preferred starting date for this project is before June 2012.
Expressions of Interest should be submitted as soon as possible.
For further information and to apply, please email a cover letter with a CV and contact details for two referees, to
Dr Rosalie Chapple (firstname.lastname@example.org; ph 02-9385 5653) at the Blue Mountains World Heritage Institute.
October 2011: Climate change research in the GBMWHA showcased in Korea
Building Natural World Heritage Capacity in Asia in the face of Climate Change
23 – 25th September, Suncheon city, Korea
This workshop focused on two practical approaches central to the future of Natural World Heritage properties in the face of a changing climate in Asia:
- The need for comprehensive vulnerability assessments to identify potential threats to the integrity and values of the sites. These assessments need to be based on a thorough review of the potential impact of climate change on site values in order to identify effective management responses.
- The need to develop appropriate adaptive management frameworks to promote a culture of iterative values-based management which protects Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) as it is termed under the World Heritage Convention. These frameworks need to be tailored to ensure effective science-based monitoring and evaluation programmes which set appropriate standards and in turn trigger timely management responses.
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Snapshots of Korean landscapes taken by Peter Shadie
BMWHI was given the opportunity to share the learning and experience from the Greater Blue Mountains with other World Heritage sites in Asia and the international community. BMWHI Research Manager, Peter Shadie, organised the meeting in his capacity as IUCN Senior Advisor, World Heritage and he invited Dr. Daniel Ramp, formerly with UNSW and now with UTS (both BMWHI members) who presented the work done in the Managing Ecosystem Change in the GBMWHA Project as one of the case studies on vulnerability assessments.
Our GBMWHA project showcased how sophisticated computer modelling can help identify the likely impacts of climate change on ecosystems - for example, through identifying climate change refugia both inside and outside the current WHA - and highlighted the Importance of science informing policy & management.
Resolutions at the conclusion of this workshop included:
- conducting a pan-Asia scale vulnerability assessment to identify those natural World Heritage sites most at risk;
- developing a number of pilot Climate Change Learning Sites to showcase adaptive management and response strategies and then share this learning;
- creating a network of World Heritage and Climate Change expertise in Asia.
BMWHI hopes to see the work done in the GBMWHA expanded and taken up as part of policy development and management planning. This will be crucial for building a more resilient system in the face of climate change.
||Dan Ramp’s presentation is available to view by clicking on the image (left) or by clicking here
August 2011: Blackheath Research Forum
BMWHI and the Office of Environment & Heritage (National Parks & Wildlife Division) recently co-hosted another in the series of BMWHI Research Forums which aim to bring together researchers, managers and policy makers around critical issues for the conservation of the GBMWHA. More than 30 participants spent an afternoon on August 2nd 2011 at the Blue Mountains Heritage Centre in Blackheath, focusing on diverse issues and threats to the future of the GBMWHA.
Presenters from left to right: Cheryle Yin-Lo, Michelle Barton, Rosalie Chapple
Presenters from various Universities and institutions showcased their work on a broad range of issues including:
- Interactions between native & introduced predators in the Greater Blue Mountains
- Valuing the ecosystem services of carbon storage and water
- Assessing the potential for bioenergy from native agroforestry
- Documenting instances of & managing the problem of Phythophthora
- Creative Arts as a catalyst for community environmental stewardship
The Forums are an important opportunity to share learning on current research and to foster a healthy dialogue between researchers, land managers and policy makers. A key role for BMWHI is to address how the research can be taken up by managers to inform their on-the-ground activities.
Presenters from left to right: Floret Parker, Peter Shadie, Michelle Barton, Zoe-Joy Newby
[ Download forum flyer ]
Some of the presentations are available to download below:
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August 2011: Phase One of Bioenergy Project complete, final report published
The final report detailing the processes and outcomes of Phase One of our Native Agroforestry & Bioenergy Project
is now available to download. This report describes how bioenergy feedstocks could be generated using agroforestry in the Central Tablelands region of New South Wales based upon information from engagement with stakeholders, a survey of landholder attitudes and Geographic Information System analysis. The report also includes recommendations for future planning, as well as details of how the work undertaken in this case study area can be applied to other regions.
Download a pdf of the final report by clicking here
July 2011: Institute Launches new Low Carbon Tourism Initiative
The Blue Mountains World Heritage Institute is actively pursuing an initiative to reduce the carbon footprint of the Blue Mountains tourism industry and position the mountains as a low-carbon tourism destination.
The project idea emerged from a recent Futures Forum (pictured below) involving an impressive panel of influential thinkers, including former premier Bob Carr, science journalist Robyn Williams and veteran environmentalist Penny Figgis.
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“This Futures Forum opened up a robust dialogue on how to better promote the values of the Blue Mountains to the wider community and how to strengthen understanding about the intimate connections between humans and their environment,” said Institute Executive Director Dr Rosalie Chapple.
“A consortium of interests has now formed under the leadership of the BMWHI to take the project forward and seek partnerships in the Blue Mountains business and wider community.”
Key partners so far include Blue Mountains Tourism Ltd, the NSW National Parks and Wildife Service under the Office of Environment and Heritage, Blue Mountains City Council, the UNSW Institute of Environmental Studies, Finity Consulting, and Greenlight Technology Group.
The Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area (GBMWHA) is internationally recognised for its outstanding natural values. The area is threatened by a number of factors including climate change, which looms as potentially the greatest threat to the ecological integrity of this area. The Blue Mountains is also the most popular regional tourist destination in Australia, annually receiving approximately 4 million visitors and generating nearly $500m. Tourism is responsible for almost 6% of Australia’s total greenhouse gas emissions.
The Blue Mountains Low-Carbon Tourism Initiative acknowledges the connection between the tourism industry and the protection of the values of the World Heritage Area and a crucial outcome of the project will be returning benefits to the natural values of the GBMWHA.
“While there are many examples of nature-based, sustainable or eco-tourism, there are few specific to reducing carbon emissions,” Dr Chapple said.
“Boosting the tourism sector in the region through times of rising energy costs to run financially rewarding operations while safeguarding the very ecosystems the industry relies heavily on has tremendous potential benefits for many different stakeholders. The key to decreasing a destination’s carbon footprint is to carefully plan its carbon reduction program. Transportation, accommodation, and facilities should focus on mitigating their emissions while they adapt to changing climate conditions.
“Our aim is for this project to become a model that can be adopted by other tourist centres around Australia and the world.”
March 2011: New Independent Chair of the Board of Directors
|The Blue Mountains World Heritage Institute has appointed Emeritus Professor Dexter Dunphy chair of its board of directors.
Professor Dunphy comes from a distinguished family of conservationists who have had a profound influence on the development of the state’s national parks system and the community’s understanding of Australia’s unique natural heritage. Read more >>
February 2011: New Flagship Programs
The Blue Mountains World Heritage Institute has introduced three Flagship Programs in 2011, the aim being to focus research and enhance community and sponsor engagement. The Flagship Programs are holistic, landscape-scale concepts that tackle complex socio-economic and ecosystem challenges for the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area. Read more >>
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