The board of the Wet Tropics Management Authority (the Authority) convened for its second meeting in Cairns on 11–12 February 2016. The first day included a field trip, with the board travelling to a number of sites around Kuranda (see more about the board’s Kuranda visit).
On the second day the board deliberated on a range of strategic topics including: priorities during its tenure; the Authority’s engagement programs; State of Wet Tropics reporting; workforce capacity planning; the Partnership Agreement with the Department of National Parks, Sport and Racing; and an upcoming Ministerial Forum.
The board is keen to progress meaningful and respectful engagement and partnerships with Rainforest Aboriginal people. As part of this the development of the Authority’s Rainforest Aboriginal Strategic Engagement Framework was considered. It was agreed that the Authority’s role in Rainforest Aboriginal engagement should reflect a post-Native Title environment and support for free, prior and informed consent of Rainforest Aboriginal people to ensure meaningful and effective involvement in the management of the World Heritage Area. The board has requested that the Authority meet with Rainforest Aboriginal members and organisations over the coming months to further discuss and refine the proposed engagement framework.
The board also considered the Authority’s proposed approach to strengthening community and stakeholder engagement and participation in the conservation, protection and presentation of the World Heritage Area. The board requested that the Authority strengthen its role in coordinating existing networks while seeking to develop online platforms and mechanisms to engage youth, encourage broader local community participation and generate greater awareness and interest of the Area and its values. It also encouraged the Authority to be flexible in initiating formal arrangements for addressing issues through committees and reference groups.
The board identified the following strategic priority deliverables during the next three years:
Secure sufficient funding to continue baiting programs and further research of yellow crazy ants as well as to develop a specialist management team with a goal of eradication.
Pursue climate change adaptation and mitigation strategies to protect and preserve the integrity of the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area.
Progress a three year (2016–2019) Partnership Agreement with the Department of National Parks, Sport and Racing (NPSR) to support management of the protected area estate within the World Heritage Area.
Further engage and partner with Rainforest Aboriginal people to develop economic opportunities through ranger programs, tourism and scientific research within the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area.
Recognise and utilise the outcomes of formal scientific research and knowledge held by Rainforest Aboriginal people to shape management of the World Heritage Area.
Develop a formal mechanism for individuals and institutions conducting research within the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area to give back to indigenous communities they engage with, through both financial and knowledge transfer arrangements.
Investigate options for ‘user pays’ mechanisms and how revenue might be used by the Authority in management, presentation and programs as well as to benefit Rainforest Aboriginal people and other communities within the World Heritage Area.
Deepen the relationship with the community and increase relevance and recognition of the work done by the Authority.
Improve presentation and marketing of the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area in conjunction with tourism and other stakeholders.
Following this full and productive day, the board attended a ‘meet and greet’ reception with various community representatives where the chair, Leslie Shirreffs, spoke about the Authority’s future plans and programs.
The next board meeting is scheduled for 3–4 May in Cairns.