Legislative framework

Wet Tropics Management AuthorityWet Tropics legislation

The Federal Government is a signatory to the World Heritage Convention, an international treaty which binds the Government to protect World Heritage Areas for future generations. In 1990, the Queensland and Australian governments signed the Management Scheme Intergovernmental Agreement for the Wet Tropics of Queensland World Heritage Area (last updated in 2012). This agreement outlines the broad structural and funding arrangements for protection of the World Heritage Area and was the foundation on which the Wet Tropics World Heritage Protection and Management Act 1993 (the Act) was made. The Act is the Queensland legislation which sets out the role of the Wet Tropics Management Authority in managing the World Heritage Area. The Act also provides the legal basis for the Wet Tropics Management Plan 1998 (the Management Plan). See the Wet Tropics Management Plan page for more information about how the Management Plan regulates land use activities in the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area through a zoning and permit system. 

The operation of the Management Plan is based on five broad approaches:

  • Three zones have been established to achieve specific management outcomes.
  • A range of activities which could potentially impact on the World Heritage Area have been prohibited—in particular, activities which destroy vegetation, result in land degradation, affect streams or spoil scenic values.
  • Some specified activities are allowed without a permit.
  • Some specified activities are regulated through a permit system.
  • Management agreements may allow some activities, otherwise prohibited, if the agreement contributes to the achievement of the Primary Goal of World Heritage management.


Eucalypt woodland. Mount Edith Road
Photographer: Campbell ClarkeEnvironmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act

Australian legislation which relates to the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area includes the Environment Protection & Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999. Under this Act a person must not, without an approval under the Act, take an action that is likely to have a significant impact on a matter of national environmental significance. These include:

  • World Heritage properties
  • RAMSAR wetlands and threatened species or ecological community listed under the Act
  • listed migratory species
  • the environment in a Commonwealth marine area or on Commonwealth land.

The Act requires that a person proposing to take an action should contact the Commonwealth Minister for the Environment for a decision on whether or not the action needs an approval. If a Commonwealth environmental approval is required, this will be in addition to relevant State approvals. For further information, see the Australian Government website.


Nature Conservation Act

The Nature Conservation Act 1992 provides for the conservation and ecologically sustainable use of biological diversity on National Parks and other protected areas. Under the Act, the Nature Conservation (Wildlife) Regulation 1994 regulates protected wildlife, including conservation of rare and threatened plants and animals, throughout Queensland. Significantly, the Wet Tropics Management Plan does not regulate animal wildlife and relies on Nature Conservation Regulations for the management of animal wildlife on and off protected areas.


Other legislationWet Tropics Management Authority

Other legislation which is important for management of the World Heritage Area includes:

  • Forestry Act 1959 (Qld) which regulates management and protection of State Forests and Timber Reserves

  • Vegetation Management Act 1999 (Qld)  which regulates the clearing of vegetation on freehold land

  • Land Act 1994 and Land Regulation 1995 (Qld) which regulate vegetation clearing on State land

  • Biosecurity Act 2014 which regulates prohibited and restricted matter including specified weeds, feral animals and diseases

  • Planning Act 2016 which obliges each local council to prepare a planning scheme regulating the effects of development activities. If there is any inconsistency between the Wet Tropics Management Plan and a planning scheme (whether made before or after the plan), the Wet Tropics Management Plan prevails over the planning scheme to the extent of the inconsistency.

  • Coastal Protection and Management Act 1995 (Qld) which provides for the protection and management of the Queensland coast and the development of coastal management plans

  • Fisheries Act 1994 (Qld) which regulates the management, use, development and protection of fisheries resources and fish habitats and the management of aquaculture activities

  • Water Act 2000 (Qld) which deals with water use, entitlements and allocations, and planning for water management

  • Land Title Act 1994 (Qld) which is an Act to consolidate and reform the law about the registration of freehold land and interests in freehold land, and for other related purposes.


Legislation related to Aboriginal interestsWet Tropics Management Authority

Conservation and land management must also take into account Aboriginal rights and interests as defined in the following legislation:

If you need to view legislation of Queensland, visit the website of the Queensland Parliamentary Counsel.

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