Antarctica's unique environment is internationally recognised, and a wide range of its heritage values are protected under the Madrid Protocol. In addition to the general, continent-wide protection provided by the protocol, extra levels of protection can be applied to areas of outstanding environmental, scientific, historic, aesthetic or wilderness values by a range of frameworks (Table 7.1); for example, by designating them as Antarctic Specially Protected Areas. Sites of particular significance to Australia have also been added to the national heritage lists. Australia's subantarctic islands, which do not come under the Antarctic Treaty, are on the World Heritage List.
Table 7.1 Status of listings of Australia's natural and historic heritage in Antarctica
|Site||Register of the National Estate||National Heritage List||Commonwealth Heritage List||World Heritage List|
|Natural and historic|
|Heard Island and McDonald Islands||Registered 1983||Listed 2007||Indicative property; formal nomination not made||Declared 1997|
|Macquarie Island||Nature reserve registered 1980||Listed 2007||Declared 1997|
|Mawson's Huts and Mawson's Huts Historic Site||Registered 2002||Listed 2005||Listed 2004|
|Wilkes Station||Indicative property; formal nomination not made|
|Davis Station||Registered 1999||Indicative property; formal nomination not made|
|Mawson Station||Registered 2001||Listed 2004|
Australia's two subantarctic islands or island groups, Heard Island and McDonald Islands in the Southern Ocean and Macquarie Island in the south-west Pacific, were listed on the World Heritage List and the National Heritage List in 1997 and 2007, respectively, because of their 'outstanding natural universal values'. The inclusion of these areas on the World Heritage List underlines not only the physical and natural values these islands represent, but also their international importance. Moreover, these islands are significant for Australia's Antarctic history, as both contain sites of cultural heritage value.180-181 Heard Island and McDonald Islands are Australian territory and are managed through the Australian Antarctic Division. Macquarie Island is part of Tasmania and in the care of the Tasmanian Parks and Wildlife Services. However, the division coordinates and manages the maintenance of the station and field huts, as well as logistic operations.
Australia also manages 11 Antarctic Specially Protected Areas, including one at Commonwealth Bay (see Section 2.5.2), as well as two Antarctic Specially Managed Areas (ASMAs): Commonwealth Bay (ASMA 03) and the Larsemann Hills (ASMA 06).