The Primary Goal for the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area is to implement Australia’s international duty to protect, conserve, present, rehabilitate and transmit to future generations the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area, within the meaning of the World Heritage Convention. The Wet Tropics World Heritage Area fulfills all four criteria described for inclusion of properties on the World Heritage Register as ‘natural heritage’.

Extract from Australia’s application for WH listing states:

The Wet Tropics region of north-east Queensland is one of the most significant regional ecosystems of the world.  It is of outstanding scientific importance and natural beauty and adequately fulfills all four criteria for inclusion of natural properties on the World Heritage List as set out in the ‘Operational Guidelines for the implementation of the WH Convention.

The Professor of Systematic Botany at the University of Zurich, one of the referees of the nomination, provided some salient comments:

As I have been working on primitive flowering plants for many years I was extremely interested in the report.  There is no question that the tropical rainforests of Northern Queensland are the most important ecosystems with primitive flowering plants in the world as far as concentration and diversity is concerned.  The region indeed fulfills all four criteria defined by the WH Convention for inclusion on the WH List.  Therefore WH nomination is highly justified.  The region is really a priceless and irreplaceable possession of mankind as a whole.  A disturbance and destruction of the tropical rainforest region of Northern Queensland would be a global fraud to the future of mankind as a whole.  I understand parts of the area are threatened.”     (Endress in RCSQ 1986:155)

World Heritage is a United Nations initiative that has arisen from a heightened appreciation of conservation and environmentalism.  Ecotourism, sustainable development and habitation, triple bottom line accounting linking conservation, economy and community wellbeing, coincided with the discovery of primitive and ancient flora during the 1970’s and 80’s. The Daintree became the primary focus for Australia’s environmental enthusiasm.  “Save the Daintree” became the catch-cry of the day and was swiftly adopted by astute politicians.

World Heritage listing of Australia’s Wet Tropics contained an ambitious element of universal conservation by crossing artificial boundaries to conserve rainforest of the highest order of biodiversity and biological significance regardless of tenure and existing land uses.  It is a precedent that ought to have been evaluated and reported on before this.  It created beneficial outcomes for conservation, provided an economy and enhanced the wellbeing of the people who care for the land.

As Australia approaches the 30th anniversary of this momentous decision, our little-known family, living in the rich rainforest refuge of the Cooper Valley in the biological centre of significance, can reflect on changes that this single decision made, not just to our lives, but on the importance of this decision to future generations.

As landholders and land managers, we are obligated by WH legislation to the achievement of the Primary Goal, to protect, conserve, present, rehabilitate and transmit to future generations the WH values, within the meaning of the WH Convention.

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