The Wet Tropics World Heritage Area’s stunning visual landscape is the subject of the latest State of Wet Tropics Report.
The 2016-2017 State of Wet Tropics Report on Natural Beauty and Aesthetic Value of the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area was prepared by the Wet Tropics Management Authority and Protected Area Solutions. It was tabled in the Queensland and Commonwealth parliaments before public release today.
When the Wet Tropics was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1988, it met all four natural criteria including criterion (vii): to contain superlative natural phenomena or areas of exceptional natural beauty.
From rugged mountain vistas, to fast flowing clear rivers and numerous waterfalls, the visual appeal of the area elicits a range of individual experiences and emotions.
The Report recommends that these experiences be acknowledged in the statements validating the World Heritage listing.
Recognising that beauty is subjective, workshops were held locally to identify specific Wet Tropics features that demonstrate this value. Experts from industries across the Wet Tropics including science, tourism, recreation and conservation, as well as Traditional Owners, writers, artists, photographers and government representatives, took part.
In addition to recognising the Wet Tropics’ many visual marvels, workshop participants also expressed the importance of “smells, sounds, feeling of spirituality and sense of excitement and surprise.”
One participant in the Rainforest Aboriginal workshop drew attention to cultural differences in the perception of natural beauty, stating: “I know it is beautiful in the common sense of the word, but this is my mother’s country, and it talks to my heart.”
The workshops resulted in a series of statements further supporting the original nomination of the Wet Tropics under criterion (vii), including that “the exceptional natural beauty and aesthetic of the property is:
associated with the soundscape of bird and frog calls, rushing water, wind through the trees and silence of the forest
enhanced by the visual impact of cloud forests, mist on the mountains and the feeling of mist on the skin
associated with Rainforest Aboriginal people having occupied the country for tens of thousands of years.”
Wet Tropics Management Authority executive director, Scott Buchanan, said that while the report found the Wet Tropics’ natural beauty to be well-recognised and in good condition, it suggests that more could be done to catalogue and understand these notions of beauty to assist management and protection efforts.
“The natural beauty of the Wet Tropics is, for most people, the starting point for their engagement with the area,” he said.
“Whether it is the call of a Victoria’s riflebird, stunning vistas from Kahlpahlim Rock at sunrise or the feeling of rainforest mist on your skin, personal connection with natural beauty sparks our emotional attachment to the area.
“The authors of this report have tackled a difficult task in quantifying natural beauty and aesthetic value in the Wet Tropics, and the recommendations will assist future reviews of the statements supporting its World Heritage listing.”
Download the 2016-17 State of Wet Tropics Report [pdf, 4.2MB]