UNESCO World Heritage: Wet Tropics, Queensland

The Douglas Shire has a unique position within two World Heritage listed areas - the Great Barrier Reef and the Wet Tropics.

The Wet Tropics of Queensland, stretching over 450 kilometres and encompassing 894,420 hectares of mostly tropical rainforest, is recognised as an area of outstanding scenic features, natural beauty and magnificent sweeping landscapes.

This is particularly apparent between the Daintree River and Cedar Bay in the North. As the Wet Tropics is the largest part of the entire Australasian region where rainforests have persisted continuously since Gondwana times, its living flora is the closest modern-day counterpart for Gondwana forests. The area supports an exceptionally high level of diversity of both plants and animals with many species being endemic. It is therefore of great scientific interest and of fundamental importance to conservation.

At the time of its inscription (1988) the property was identified as being an essentially intact ecosystem. However, a number of human disturbances detracted from the overall integrity such as transmission lines, access roads and mine sites. Australian and Queensland governments have committed to the obligation to protect and manage the integrity under the World Heritage Convention. In 2007, the Wet Tropics was added to the National Heritage List.

A key emerging threat to the integrity of the Wet Tropics is climate change, as with even a small increase in temperature, large declines in the range size for almost every endemic vertebrate species are predicted.