The Wet Tropics World Heritage Area has a special place in the hearts of the local community, being central to our sense of place and identity. Its spectacular scenery provides a backdrop for our urban and rural lifestyles with many of us relishing opportunities to experience the beauty and grandeur of its rainforests, mountains, rivers, waterfalls and wildlife. The Area contains some of the richest biodiversity in Australia and a host of endemic plant and animal species. Over 18 Aboriginal tribal groups continue to live in and around the Area and sustain their traditional cultural knowledge and connections to the country.
The Wet Tropics Conservation Strategy (also available as a summary) outlines actions to achieve the conservation, rehabilitation and transmission to future generations of the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area. The Wet Tropics Management Plan 1998 provides legislative protection for the Area but the Area must be managed as a core component of the entire Wet Tropics bioregion. The Wet Tropics World Heritage Area and the Wet Tropics bioregion can be viewed on a map of planning boundaries.
Issues such as climate change, habitat fragmentation, fire management and the use of water go beyond the Area’s boundaries and require a coordinated response from the whole community. The long term integrity of the Area will depend on cooperative management and the careful sharing of resources. The willingness of local governments, landholders, Aboriginal Traditional Owners and the broader community to offer their expertise and participate in conservation and rehabilitation measures will be vital to the Area’s survival for future generations.
The Conservation Strategy also serves as an important educational tool which explains the values of the Area and the benefits it provides for the regional community. The strategy evaluates the major threats to the Area and how landholders, the community and the Authority can help address these threats. For those who wish to do further reading, a list of additional information sources is supplied. Comprehensive and wide ranging, the strategy demonstrates the need for the better and more efficient use of existing resources and the Authority hopes that it can be used to help attract additional resources to conserve the Area.
The Conservation Strategy also contributed to other Wet Tropics conservation planning processes. The detailed priorities informed the Wet Tropics Natural Resource Management Plan which governs the expenditure of Australian Government resource management funding and other investment in the region. Many of the Conservation Strategy’s actions will also be beneficial for the neighbouring Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area. There are opportunities to share resources and planning for the benefit of both World Heritage Areas.
The Conservation Strategy also complements existing Wet Tropics strategies and agreements. The Nature Based Tourism Strategy and Walking Strategy provide a framework for the ecologically sustainable management of tourism and recreation in and around the World Heritage Area. The Wet Tropics Regional Agreement with Aboriginal groups provides for Aboriginal representation and participation in all aspects of conservation management.
The Wet Tropics Management Authority appreciates the contributions and support of the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service in the development of the Conservation Strategy, as well as contributions from State and Australian Government agencies, Rainforest Aboriginal people, research scientists, conservation groups, local government, primary industry groups, the tourism industry, World Heritage landholders and neighbours and other interested members of the public.