Uluru

©Wikimedia Commons/ Toursim NT
Uluru Biosphere Reserve, Australia

The Uluru Biosphere Reserve is located within the Central Desert in Central Australia. Two rock formations characterize the topography of the region — Uluru (863 metres above sea level) and Kata Tjuta (1,066 metres above sea level, covering 3,500 ha). The Uluru-Kata Tjuta landscape is one of Australia’s major symbols and is recognized as a World Heritage site of fundamental importance for humanity.

Designation Date: 1977
Administrative Authorities: The Commonwealth Agency, Environment Australia Parks Australia North, the Central land Council, the Mutitjulu Community Council Inc.
Surface area (terrestrial): 132,566 ha
Core area(s): 132,566 ha

Location
Latitude: 25°S - 20°S
Longitude: 131°E
Centre point: 24°15'S - 130°48'E

Ecological Characteristics

©Wikimedia Commons/ Toursim NT
Uluru Biosphere Reserve, Australia

Uluru and Kata Tjuta are surrounded by red sand dunes, sand plains and alluvium deposits. Uluru consists of feldspar and rich sandstone arkose, while Kata Tjuta is composed of 36 precipitous rock domes of Mt Currie conglomerate. Geologists and geographers still debate the explanation for the geological development of these rock formations. The rock surfaces of these Puli habitats (rocky outcrops) act as catchment areas for rainfall and consequently result in the creation of waterholes and gully systems.

Precipitation variability and a striking difference between the summer and winter seasons characterize the climatic conditions of the reserve. Three main land systems play an important role in Uluru’s topography. The Gillen land system comprises the outcrops of both Uluru and Kata Tjuta, which have narrow gorges, gullies and creek lines. The Karee Land System consists of gently sloping plains that are adjacent to the alluvium and fans of the Gillen Land System. Lastly, the Simpson land system is the largest of the three systems and contains dune fields and sand plains.

The main species found in Uluru and Kata Tjuta are Puli-ili (native fig), Arnguli (plum bush) and Mintjingka (native fuchsia). These can be found in common habitats within the reserve, such as Puti (woodlands) and Karu (creek bends and gullies). Vulnerable or rare flora and fauna include Cymbopogon dependens (native lemongrass), Delam pax (legless lizard) and Egernia kintorei (Great Desert skink). Bore fields act as permanent monitoring sites for the latter species.

Socio-Economic Characteristics

©Wikimedia Commons/ Toursim NT
Uluru Biosphere Reserve, Australia

The Biosphere Reserve is uninhabited, however, the Mutitjulu Community lies approximately 1 kilometre east of Uluru. Aboriginal members of this community, known as Anangu, own the land of the Biosphere Reserve and often wander into Uluru for short periods of time. There they participate in touristic activities and sometimes work as rangers and tour guides. The Australian Government works together with the Aboriginal people to combine their natural management skills with conventional park management practices. The outstanding cultural significance of the site is marked by different spiritual places, which have been guarded by the Anagu for over 1,000 years. Around 500,000 annual tourists visit the Biosphere Reserve annually and undertake activities such as sightseeing, cultural studies and animal observations.

 


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