University of Adelaide researchers recommend four councils in the Mount Lofty Ranges and the State Government should jointly pursue a bid for World Heritage listing of the region.
Findings of a report released this week support a proposed bid for UNESCO World Heritage listing of the working agricultural landscape of the Adelaide Hills, the Barossa Valley, Mount Barker and McLaren Vale.
According to the study authors, World Heritage listing would protect the Mount Lofty Ranges' unique qualities as a working agricultural region. The region's food, wine and tourism industries could be globally branded accordingly.
If successful, the Mount Lofty Ranges would join other working agricultural sites in Italy, Portugal, Hungary and Mexico to be recognised in this way.
Funded by the Adelaide Hills Council, The Barossa Council, District Council of Mount Barker and the City of Onkaparinga, the 18-month study was led by Professor Randy Stringer from the University of Adelaide's School of Agriculture, Food and Wine and the Environment Institute.
The councils will consider the study's findings over the next six weeks.
"Achieving World Heritage Site status would aim to conserve the unique qualities of the Mount Lofty Ranges, not just for future generations of Australians but also for the world. This would not be seen as turning the Ranges into a museum, but protecting its status as a working, growing, changing landscape under local planning control," says Professor Stringer, a University of Adelaide agricultural economist who has had extensive experience with the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization.
"World Heritage listing would provide the globally recognised branding that our food, wine and tourism industries are seeking - it would tell the story of what makes this place so special to the outside world, and to the people of Adelaide."
The report concludes that seeking World Heritage status is a no-lose proposition, whether or not it succeeds.
"World Heritage status has evolved into a widely respected brand that countries use to attract tourists and to promote and add value to their products," Professor Stringer says.
Updated 5 JUne 2012