The Nilpena Ediacara National Park in Australia has been proclaimed as a 60,000-hectare national park, containing one of the world’s most important fossil sites due to the unique preservation of complex animal life. The park also has significant biodiversity value and aims to protect both the current native landscape and the area’s globally unique window into the absolute depths of time. The Australian Government placed the Flinders Rangers on Australia’s tentative list for World Heritage in April 2021 and the international significance of Nilpena’s fossil discoveries is fundamental in securing a formal listing slated for 2025.
This project is part of FNPW’s Growing Parks program.
On June 17, 2021, the Nilpena Ediacara National Park was proclaimed, marking the creation of a brand new 60,000 hectare national park on the Flinders Ranges. The park was established in association with the Flinders Ranges Ediacara Foundation, the South Australian Government, and the Foundation for National Parks & Wildlife (FNPW). The Nilpena Ediacara National Park is recognised as the richest and most diverse Ediacaran fossil site on Earth. It contains unique fossils of an early record of animal life (known as Ediacaran) evidenced by on-site research undertaken over the past 30 years.
The Ediacaran Period
This region is the only place in the Southern Hemisphere to have a geological time period named for it – the Ediacaran Period, in honour of the Ediacara Hills of the Flinders Ranges. This became the first new geological period declared by the International Union of Geological Sciences in 120 years. It spans 94 million years from the end of the Cryogenian Period to the beginning of the Cambrian Period.
The Significance of Nilpena’s Fossil Discoveries
Scientists believe that this is the place from which all animal life as we know it originated. This region was once the sea floor, and it contains strange early life forms some half a billion years old that have been exquisitely preserved in the fine sandstone grain. The great naturalist Sir David Attenborough visited Nilpena and made the BBC documentary ‘First Life’ there.
Biodiversity and Conservation
Nilpena Ediacara National Park has also significant biodiversity value, containing two threatened ecological communities (River Red Gum woodland and Mulga low woodlands). It also contains some 44 species of native animals and 111 species of native plants. FNPW’s goal is to protect both the current native landscape and the animals that live there, but also an area that provides a globally unique window into the absolute depths of time.
Continued Research and Protection
Nilpena will continue to be a working research site with discoveries promoting science as a key part of reinforcing the ongoing need to protect and care for Nilpena. The Australian Government placed the Flinders Ranges on Australia’s tentative list for World Heritage in April 2021, and the international significance of Nilpena’s fossil discoveries are fundamental in securing a formal listing slated for 2025. The World Heritage nomination of the Flinders Ranges will contain two sites on Nilpena Ediacara National Park, the excavated Nilpena fossil site and Ediacara Hill. With the establishment of Nilpena Ediacara National Park, we can ensure that this land and its unique heritage are protected and preserved for future generations, celebrated, and shared throughout the world.
For more information, please visit: https://www.parks.sa.gov.au/parks/nilpena-ediacara-national-park
ACKNOWLEDGEMENT OF COUNTRY
FNPW supports projects across Australia. In the spirit of reconciliation, we acknowledge the Traditional Owners of the Country (Adnyamathanha people) and recognise their continuing connection to land, waters, and culture.
PROGRESS OF THIS PROJECT
This project was funded by FNPW in 2019.