Community Perceptions of a World Heritage Nomination Process: The Ningaloo Coast Region of Western Australia
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The remote Ningaloo Coast region, the location of Australia's largest fringing coral reef, was designated as World Heritage (WH) in 2011 based on its outstanding natural values. In the past, the WH nomination process predominantly involved experts and state officials. More recently, local community involvement has become a required part of the process, representing a move toward participatory governance that can potentially influence WH designation. Understanding community perceptions of the WH nomination process provides insights into the consequences of community involvement. Interviews were conducted with key local community members involved in the Ningaloo Coast WH nomination. Interviews focused on the perceptions and experience of the nomination process and local meanings of WH designation.Results indicated that while there was support for WH designation, the nomination process was seen as controversial. Community involvement was dominated by local political and social concerns, mistrust, misinformation, and perceived unfairness. Concerns were influenced by past and current government actions and decision-making in the region. The article identifies some challenges associated with local community involvement in a WH nomination process. These challenges raise questions about participatory governance and how local community's engage in the WH nomination process for coastal regions identified by experts as globally significant.
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