Managing the Area


The Primary Goal of World Heritage management is to fulfil Australia’s international duty to protect, conserve, present, rehabilitate and transmit to future generations the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area.

World Heritage legislation provides the principal mechanism to achieve the protection goal. It focuses primarily on preventing activities which could damage World Heritage values. A wide range of other Australian and Queensland legislation also applies to the Area's management. However, legislation alone cannot achieve positive management to protect and enhance the values of the Area. The Wet Tropics Management Authority works to ensure that The Area is managed in partnership with a broad range of community interests and responsibilities.


Tenures in the Area

Within the World Heritage Area's 3,125km boundary there are over 730 separate parcels of land including National Parks, State Forest, Freehold (private) land and a range of leases over public land. World Heritage listing does not affect land ownership and about two percent of the Area remains privately owned (about 115 separate parcels of land within or partly within the Area). Because of the complex land tenure, many people ranging from private land owners to government agencies are actively involved in managing the World Heritage Area. There are also about 2,500 parcels of land neighbouring the World Heritage Area. See the tenures map (December 2013) [3.3MB]  for details of tenures within the Area.


Tourism and community services infrastructure

The World Heritage Area is home to wide range of tourism and community services infrastructure which is managed and maintained by numerous agencies. This includes visitor sites and walks, highways, roads, railways, water supplies, electricity supply towers and lines, communication towers and quarries. These require strong partnerships with providers to ensure that the community needs are met and the infrastructure is constructed and maintained in keeping with the Area's natural values.




A community context

The Area is actively managed in partnership with landholders, Aboriginal people, federal state and local government agencies, the tourism industry, researchers, and the broader community.

Article 5 of the World Heritage Convention states that cultural and natural heritage should be given a function in the life of the community. While only listed for its natural values, the Area has Aboriginal cultural significance and historical values. The Area’s various socioeconomic and cultural values are also very important to the community. The Area provides a wide range of ecological goods and services to the local community, from spiritual enjoyment and improved quality of life to environmental and economic benefits through tourism and recreation and the supply of resources such as water.

It is important to incorporate these different cultural and social perspectives into management of the World Heritage Area and surrounds. There is an increasing awareness that the long term integrity of the Area depends on cooperative management both within and outside the Area. The willingness and capacity of the community to provide their expertise and support is essential to maintain World Heritage values. Community education and participation in management can help create a culture of environmental appreciation of the importance of conservation of the Area for the benefit of the entire community.


An Aboriginal context

Rainforest Aboriginal people have occupied, used and enjoyed their lands in the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area since time immemorial. There are at least 18 Aboriginal tribal groups with ongoing traditional connections to land in and around the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area. To Rainforest Aboriginal people the Area is a series of complex living cultural landscapes. This means that the country and its natural features and resources are central to Rainforest Aboriginal people’s spirituality, culture, social organisation and economic use. The participation of Traditional Owners and their cultural knowledge and perspectives of plants, animals and ecological processes creates a special context for conservation management and research of the Area. Activities such as fire management, hunting and gathering, and harvesting of materials for shelter, tools, ceremony or art and craft are essential for the maintenance of Aboriginal culture and have always been integral to the ecology of the Area.


A conservation context

The Area (894,420ha) is the core of a Wet Tropics bioregion twice its size (1,849,725ha) and is surrounded by a multitude of land uses. especially on private lands. The Area’s conservation in intact, fully functioning ecosystems is dependent on managing the lands around the Area and garnering active community support and involvement. For instance, the majority of threats to the Area originate from human impacts outside its boundaries. Weeds, feral animals and diseases must all be managed to prevent new invasive species becoming established. Restoration of habitat and connectivity between sections of the World Heritage Area is vital for wildlife movement and the Area's future integrity.


More information

See management partnerships for more details about the many people and organisations who help manage the World Heritage Area.

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