The group of Wet Tropics Tour Guides visited the Australian Tropical Herbarium, located locally at James Cook University, and benefited from expert knowledge on the evolution of Australian flora, conservation of Australia’s biodiversity and the discovery of new species.
A special highlight of the visit was viewing the herbarium’s public reference collection - a freely available plant identification resource. Guides learnt of the historical significance of the collection, including specimens collected by Joseph Banks at the Endeavour River in 1770.
The Tour Guide Training Program was initiated last year by the Wet Tropics Management Authority in partnership with Savannah Guides, Queensland Tourism Industry Council, and Industry Accreditation to raise the quality of presentation and interpretation of the world’s oldest continuous living rainforest. The initiative includes a comprehensive online course and bi-annual two day field schools.
Central to the program is the development of a network to support guides accessing the latest learning’s about an incredibly diverse and complex landscape - one consisting of over 2,800 plant species from 221 families of which 25 per cent are completely endemic to the World Heritage Area. Some of Wet Tropics ancient rainforest plant species have survived for hundreds of millions of years.
Executive director of the Wet Tropics Management Authority, Andrew Maclean said, “The visit to the Australian Tropical Herbarium is another example of the Tour Guide Training Program connecting guides to regional experts and scientists whilst strengthening the capacity of the north Queensland guiding fraternity in delivering world class experiences to our visitors”.
“Such training reaffirms the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area’s position as a must-do destination,” added Mr Maclean.