Since its inscription on the World Heritage List, the Australian and Queensland governments have worked cooperatively to put in place a comprehensive management regime for the Wet Tropics of Queensland World Heritage Area. The Wet Tropics Management Authority has delegated powers under the provisions of the Wet Tropics World Heritage Protection and Management Act 1993 to ensure active measures are taken to meet Australia’s obligations under the World Heritage Convention to protect, conserve, present, rehabilitate and transmit to future generations the natural heritage of the Area.
The Authority prepared a management plan for the Area—the Wet Tropics Management Plan 1998—which is subordinate legislation to the Wet Tropics World Heritage Protection and Management Act 1993. That plan regulates activities that might impact on the Area’s natural values, particularly those associated with the soil, water, vegetation and scenic attributes. The plan prohibits certain activities, allows certain activities which would otherwise be prohibited (either under a permit or without a permit) and exempts certain activities that destroy forest products.
The Authority works actively with Wet Tropics stakeholders to get the balance right between protection of the Area’s Outstanding Universal Value, and also allowing appropriate development for essential community and visitor infrastructure (including for tourism and recreation), to support Rainforest Aboriginal People to achieve aspirations to live and work on country, and other commercial and non-commercial land uses by private landholders within the World Heritage Area.
It should be noted that the Management Plan does not regulate scientific research, nor provide authority to issue permits for commercial activities, such as tourism (this is undertaken by QPWS).
The revised Management Plan, to the greatest extent possible, will reduce ‘green tape’, make zoning and associated rules (i.e. what activities can and cannot be undertaken in each zone) simpler to understand, and place a much stronger emphasis on outcomes, with a reduced focus on prescriptive conditioning of permits.