Location and Values: Australia’s Wet Tropics of Queensland is a serial site with 13 separate component areas spread along the northeast Queensland coast between Cooktown and Townsville. The area includes a diversity of plant communities and animal habitats, but is primarily wet tropical rainforest, with some tall open forests and woodlands on its drier western margins and some wetlands, swamps and mangrove forests along the coast. It is exceptionally rich in biodiversity and many of its species are found nowhere else on earth. Although the Wet Tropics of Queensland covers less than 0.2% of Australia’s land surface, some 18% of the continent’s vascular plants (over 3,000 species) are found at the site, together with 40% of its birds (368 species) and 30% of Australia’s marsupial mammals. It is listed under all four world heritage natural criteria, recognising its exceptional scenic qualities (which include far-reaching views of mountains cloaked in pristine rainforest, wild rivers, waterfalls and undisturbed coastal scenery adjoining the Great Barrier Reef world heritage site), as well as its importance as a living record of the evolution of land plants from the time when Australia broke away from the ancient supercontinent of Gondwana.
Conservation Status and Prospects. According to IUCN’s Conservation Outlook Assessment (2017) the conservation status of the Wet Tropics of Queensland is of ‘significant concern’. The IUCN report notes that ‘The Wet Tropics of Queensland World Heritage site is protected by a strong and updated legislative framework, a dedicated independent Management Authority which enjoys broad community support, and a comprehensive suite of management strategies. However, the insidious and damaging threat posed by invasive plants, animals and diseases, and the high risk posed by the predicted impacts of climate change present real danger to the continuing integrity of the site’s biodiversity and associated endemic species. Whilst significant efforts have been taken to address these threats on the ground, the level of investment does not appear to be commensurate with the urgency for significant preventative and remedial action, and likely consequences, of an ineffective response.’
Official UNESCO Site Details
IUCN Conservation Outlook
UNEP-WCMC Site Description