The huge rock formations of Uluru and Kata Tjuta are remarkable geological and landform features, set in a contrasting, relatively flat, sand-plain environment. They are a part of an important cultural landscape and have special significance to Anangu. The features of Uluru, Kata Tjuta and the surrounding landscape are physical evidence of the actions, artefacts and bodies of the ancestral heroes (Tjukuritja) who travelled the earth in creation times. These heroic beings, who combined the attributes of humans and animals, journeyed across the landscape creating not only its features, but also Tjukurpa (the law) – the code of behaviour followed by Anangu today. Tjukurpa regulates all aspects of life, from foraging behaviour and management of the landscape to social relationships and personal identity. It is expressed in verbal narratives, through lengthy inma (song cycles and associated ritual), art and the landscape itself. For Anangu the landscape is the narratives, songs and art of Tjukurpa. Anangu learned how to patch burn the country from Tjukurpa of lungkata, the blue tongued lizard. Now, in conjunction with modern methods, the cool season practice of lighting small fires close together leaves burnt and unburnt areas in a pattern like a mosaic. This traditional knowledge is adopted as a major ecological management tool in the park. Tjukurpa also teaches about the location and care of rock holes and other water sources. Uluru is a huge, rounded, red sandstone monolith 9.4 kilometres in circumference rising from the plain to a height of over 340 metres. Rock art in the caves around its base provides further evidence of the enduring cultural traditions of Anangu. About 32 kilometres to the west of Uluru lie the 36 steepsided domes of Kata Tjuta. The domes cover an area of 35 square kilometres, with the highest rising to 500 metres above the plain. This area is sacred under Anangu men’s law and detailed knowledge is restricted. These huge rock formations, their creek lines, waterholes and the surrounding sand country vegetation is an arid environment of enormous diversity. The landscape is dominated by spinifex and low shrubs, with large desert oaks dotted on the sand dunes and plains. Sizeable areas of mulga woodland and other low shrubs also occur on dunes and swales. The alluvial flow areas at the base of the major rock formations support large bloodwoods, acacias and native grasses. Water holes and soaks provide restricted habitats for a number of rare and unique plant species. Larger stands of mulga and other acacias dominate the harder, wide, sand plain surrounding Uluru and Kata Tjuta. Anangu’s traditional ecological knowledge is critical to the ongoing scientific management of the species found in these habitats. The park is home to more than 150 species of birds and many reptiles, amphibians and invertebrates adapted to arid environments. A number of rare mammals are found here, including the hairyfooted dunnart, the sandhill dunnart and the mulgara. The mala, a significant Tjukurpa species, has recently been re-introduced. Reptile species are well adapted to this arid environment and are found in numbers unparalleled anywhere else in the world. Lizard species include the rare giant desert skink and Australia’s largest lizard, the perentie, which can grow to a length of 2.5 metres. The huge rock formations of Uluru and Kata Tjuta are remarkable geological and landform features set in a contrasting, relatively flat, sand-plain environment.
Uluru Kata-Tjuta National Park
* About the images
We took care to attach appropriate images that are as close to representative of each species as our resources and the availability of images allowed. however, we could not ensure perfect accuaracy in every case. Some images show species that share the same genus but not at the species or subspecies level.
Government evidence of impact of climate change:
Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment, World Heritage Places - Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park
Climate change has emerged as a potential threat to Uluru Kata Tjuta’s World Heritage values and is likely to bring extreme weather and increase the risk of wildfire.
IUCN World Heritage Outlook, Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, 2014
The key threats to the site wildfire; feral animals (camels; fox and rabbits); weeds and invasive exotic species (especially buffel grass) and climate change are a threat to the sites’ biodiversity values rather than a threat to its World Heritage Values.
These threats are all interrelated and together with climate change impact significantly on available ground water; which is a key determinant to the survival of the threatened species.
Additional information Key conservation issues Climate change Global The predicted effects of climate change for the central Australia region include a rise in average temperatures; a reduction in the number of cold nights (below 0 degrees Celsius) and an increase in evaporation rates.
Long term water use at Yulara; based on historical use and rainfall averages; was less certain and further investigation have been recommended; particularly with more recent climate change predictions (DONP; 2010 Hyde; 2008).
Fire Fire Suppression Low Threat Inside site Outside site In the period 1997 2005; most parts of the site (99 ) were burnt fewer than two times and no parts of the site were burnt more than four times.
The key threats to central Australia are an increased in annual temperatures; increase in CO2 concentrations; increase in potential evaporation; increase in the number of hot days over 35 degrees Celsius and a change in fire regimes.
Parks Australia working closely with Anangu; the Central Land Council Improving knowledge about the impacts of fire regimes on flora and fauna through monitoring and research activities.
IUCN World Heritage Outlook, Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, 2017
Fire Fire Suppression Low Threat Inside site; widespread(15 50 ) Destructive wildfires burnt much of the park in 2002.
Following the rainfall; the vegetation dies leaving large amounts of fuel and an ecosystem extremely prone to massive wildfire.
Heavy rainfall during 2016 and 2017 has resulted in heavy vegetation fuel loads; which could pose a high wildfire threat to biodiversity and cultural values; unless fuel loads are reduced in coming years.
IUCN World Heritage Outlook, Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, 2020
The effects of climate change are unknown; but are a likely key threat given its potential to negatively impact the wider ecosystem and interact with other aforementioned threats.
The effects of climate change are unknown; however larger more frequent wildfires may promote the spread of Buffel Grass.
The effects of climate change are unknown; but have the potential to negatively impact the surrounding natural and cultural landscape.
The effect of climate change and development on the park is unknown.
Fire Fire Suppression Low Threat (Wildfires) Inside site; widespread(15 50 ) Destructive wildfires burnt much of the park in 2002.
Heavy rainfall during 2016 and 2017 has resulted in heavy vegetation fuel loads; which pose a high wildfire threat to biodiversity and cultural values.
Australian Government Director of National Parks and the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park Board of Management, Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park Management Plan 2021
Climate change has the potential to reduce rainfall and increase evaporation in the park.
If predicted changes to the climate eventuate; the amount of recharge entering the aquifers will reduce leading to water availability challenges (see Section 3.2 Protecting and enriching culture and country).
This includes improving understanding of the impacts of climate change; the status and ecology of listed or significant species; and involving Anangu in this work Improving our ways of storing; retrieving and sharing data and knowledge Prescriptions 3.1.
A climate change strategy (DNP 2012) was developed for the park from 2012 15 which identified the following potential impacts pressure on native flora and fauna and impacts on biodiversity increased spread of invasive species introduction of exotic species reduced groundwater and surface water availability increased incidence of fire events . indigenous and cultural impacts visitor impacts and human health increased pressure on park infrastructure. .
Managing the effects of climate change; including the potential for bigger and more intense fires . . . .