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Wet Tropics Management Authority Reports 2003-04


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jll·m i^W ET TROPICS MISMANAGEMENT AUTHORITYAnnual Report and State of the Wet Tropics Report 2003 - 2004

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WET TROPICS MANAGEMENT AUTHORITY

17 September 2004

Senator The Honourable Ian Campbell M inister for Environment and Heritage Suite MG60 Parliament House

PO Box 155 CANBERRA ACT 2600

D ear M inister,

I have pleasure in submitting the Wet Tropics Management A uthority’s annual report for 2003-2004.

Under the Wet Tropics World Heritage Conservation Act 1994, section 10 (1) ‘annual report’ means a report given to the Australian Government under section 63 o f the Act. Section 10 (2) requires you as the M inister to cause a copy o f the annual report to be laid before each House o f Parliament within 15 sitting days after the report is given to the Australian Government.

In submitting this report to you today the Authority is fulfilling its responsibilities under Australian Government legislation.

Yours sincerely

JC Grey AC Lieutenant General (R et’d) Chair

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Table of Contents

Report from the Chair 3

Highlights of the year (Executive Director) 6

Introduction 8

World Heritage 8

Obligations under the World Heritage Convention and statutory management arrangements 8 Report format and approach 8

Terminology and abbreviations 9

Governance report 10

Enabling legislation 10

Statutory management arrangements 11

Conservation land management agencies 11

Wet Tropics Ministerial Council 12

Wet Tropics Management Authority Board of Directors 13

Statutory groups 13

Community Consultative Committee 13

Scientific Advisory Committee 14

Proposed new Queensland World Heritage legislation 14

Australian Rainforest Foundation 14

Environment report 15

General pressures and responses 15

Statutory protection 15

Administering the Plan 16

Protected Area tenures, cooperative management, acquisition and covenants 17

State Forest Transfer 17

Cooperative Management 17

Resolution of compensation claims 18

Acquisition of land 18

Natural Resource strategies and policies 19

Conservation Strategy Wet Tropics NRM Plan Natural resource management 19

Research, monitoring and information delivery 19

Rainforest Cooperative Research Centre 19

Vegetation mapping 20

Conservation Information Access Project 20

Specific pressures and management responses 20

Climate change 20

Community services infrastructure 21

Electricity supply infrastructure 22

Water extraction and storage 22

Pest animals 23

Environmental weeds 24

Altered fire regimes 25

Forest dieback 25

Social and cultural report 27

Presentation 27

Misty Mountains 27

Tour guide accreditation scheme 27

Wet Tropics visitor survey 27

Education, interpretation and awareness raising 28

Wildlife posters 28

Website 29

Visitor Centres 29

Daintree interpretive displays 29

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Aboriginal interests in land 30

Partnerships with Rainforest Aboriginal People 30

Interim Negotiating Forum and Wet Tropics Regional Agreement 30

Community liaison 31

Land and cultural heritage management 32

Management agreements with Rainforest Aboriginal people 33

Eastern Kuku Yalangi Indigenous Land Use Agreement 33

Role in the life of the regional community 33

Community attitudes 33

Working with the tourism industry 38

Daintree tour guide handbook on CD 38

Community Engagement Strategy 38

Schools education 38

Neighbours Newsletter 38

Cassowary Awards 38

Statutory committees 39

Community Consultative Committee 39

Scientific Advisory Committee 39

Liaison groups 40

Conservation Sector Liaison Group 40

Tourism Industry Liaison Group 40

Land Holders and Neighbours Group 41

Volunteers 41

Cassowary Advisory Group 42

Private sector partnerships 42

Visitor information kiosks 42

Rainforest Dome collaboration 42

ATFI 44

Private sector partnerships report 43

National and International collaborations 43

World Heritage Managers’ Conference 43

Lorentz World Heritage Area 43

Workshop on cluster and trans-border World Heritage nominations 44

Human and financial resources 45

Financial management 45

Rainforest CRC 45

Human Resources 45

Staffing 45

Training and development 46

Research seminar series 47

Overseas travel · 47

Workplace health and safety 47

Equal employment opportunity 48

References 49

APPPENDIX I: Operational statement 51

APPENDIX II: State and condition report 52

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Report from the Chair

My first full year as Chairperson of the Wet Tropics Board has been both interesting and challenging. Since my appointment in April last year the Authority has put considerable effort into assessing the major issues facing it and identifying the level of resources which

are essential to meet Ministerial Council and community expectations. A number of important project milestones have been achieved.

A significant achievement was the successful negotiation of a Wet Tropics Regional Agreement from the Interim Negotiating Forum (INF) process. The proposed Regional Agreement between 18 Rainforest Aboriginal tribal groups and the Authority, and Queensland and Australian governments will see the meaningful involvement of

Traditional Owners in all aspects of World Heritage Area management. An historic signing ceremony will be scheduled later this year.

After extensive public and stakeholder consultation, the Wet Tropics Conservation Strategy will be launched officially in September this year. The Conservation Strategy is a comprehensive document that will guide the efficient use of resources in conservation of the World Heritage Area. It is also being used as a reference document in development of the Wet Tropics Natural Resource Management Plan. The Authority is looking forward to developing further a cooperative management approach that incorporates the community, Traditional Owners, local governments and landholders in looking after the World Heritage Area.

The successful World Heritage Managers’ Workshop held in Cairns in May this year was an opportunity to showcase the Area and the Authority. The staff assisted the Australian Government Department of Environment and Heritage (DEH) to organise the workshop which ran over three days. Over 70 delegates from the 15 World Heritage Areas around Australia gathered to discuss the Australian Government’s new National Heritage legislation, indigenous involvement in World Heritage management and funding for all of Australia’s World Heritage Areas. I was pleased to join the Chair, Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, in giving the closing address to the workshop.

The review of the Wet Tropics Management Plan has been programmed with public consultation due to start in October this year. The review will be a major project and focus for the Authority.

The vegetation mapping of the World Heritage Area at 1:50,000 scale has continued to be an excellent resource for management of the Area. The information is being used by the Queensland Herbarium for mapping Wet Tropics Regional Ecosystems and application for Regional Ecosystems mapping under the State’s Vegetation Management Act 1999. The mapping has not only provided key data for the Wet Tropics Conservation Strategy, it has also been used to identify areas of high conservation and biodiversity values for recognition under the Wet Tropics Natural Resources Management Plan. An integrated

Conservation Information Access System has been developed with the assistance of Natural Heritage Trust (NHT) funding to facilitate easy access to such World Heritage resource information a variety of user groups.

An application by Mareeba Shire Council for the rezoning of a section of the World Heritage Area to allow the construction of an alternative access road for residents of Russett Park, near Kuranda, was refused by the Board. The proposed road was to be an

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alternative four-wheel drive route for residents unable to cross the low level bridge across the Barron River when in flood. It would have created a linear barrier cutting across a vulnerable narrow neck of the World Heritage Area. The Authority is supporting Mareeba Shire Council in its bid for funding from the Queensland and Australian governments towards the construction of an appropriate higher level bridge across the Barron River.

Such an option would provide for access during flood times without impacting on integrity of the World Heritage Area.

Joint funding provided by the Queensland and Australian governments allowed for the voluntary acquisition in July of 98 undeveloped lots o f freehold land to the north of Russell Heads, located 45km south of Caims. The acquisition guarantees the protection of the intact freshwater swamp and complex sand dune system in the coastal lowlands of the World Heritage Area. The land has been transferred into the Queensland National Park estate.

The Authority has engaged the tourism industry to foster accurate marketing of the World Heritage Area and its values through a number of different projects. As part of the Marketing Action Plan, and with funding provided by Tourism Queensland, tour guides have received a revised and updated compact disk (CD) of the popular Daintree Tour Operator’s Handbook which has proven a great resource for operators. A second image CD will be launched in September and community announcements regarding World Heritage values for television and radio are being prepared for release before the end of the year.

The Rainforest Cooperative Research Centre (RCRC) has been the principal research provider for a number of projects commissioned by the Authority. One of these projects was assessment of the potential impacts of the dieback pathogen Phytophthora cinnamomi. Dieback has the potential to adversely affect the survival of a range of

susceptible plant species in the World Heritage Area. A Dieback Monitoring System is being developed by the RCRC and a simple brochure was produced to provide advice to visitors on how to minimise the risk of spreading this pathogen. The Authority is continuing to seek the resources to commission further research which will assist in developing responses to threats such as phytophthora and climate change. The Authority will need ongoing research support by the RCRC or its replacement scientific body.

The opportunities and challenges that face us in the next year will be many and varied. In seizing the opportunities presented, we will continue to seek more timely budgetary arrangements with greater future certainty for base level funding. Our work focus will involve the progressive implementation of the Wet Tropics Conservation Strategy within resource allocations, getting underway the review of the Management Plan, delivery of the Wet Tropics Regional Agreement in conjunction with Traditional Owners, scrutinizing the effective delivery of on-ground outcomes by the Authority staff and those

external agencies funded through the Authority, implementing the tour guide accreditation scheme and progressing of private sector partnerships. During these activities we will continue to consult with communities and stakeholders.

We are aware the Queensland Government is considering changes to its World Heritage legislation which could impact on the Authority, including its responsibilities, structure and future as an independent authority. Hopefully this matter will be the subject of public and inter-govemmental consultation and resolution in the near future.

Finally, on behalf of the Board and staff of the Authority, I would like to formally acknowledge the contribution of the outgoing Executive Director, Russell Watkinson,

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who has served six years in this demanding role. Mr Watkinson’s leadership and commitment has seen the Authority set the international standard for World Heritage management in many areas. He has made a lasting contribution as a leader, senior executive, and friend to Board members and staff. The Authority has achieved much under his guidance and we wish him well in the future.

JC Grey AC Lieutenant General (Ret’d) Chair

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Highlights of the year from the Executive Director

This is my last report as Executive Director and much has been achieved over the past twelve months.

With the release of the Wet Tropics Conservation Strategy 2004 and the soon to be completed interim Community Engagement Strategy the strategic policy framework that guides management of the World Heritage Area has been completed. Focus will now be on the implementation of these strategies and the effective use of resources available to the Authority and land management agencies.

The Authority has continued to play a key role in the meaningful involvement of Traditional Owners in World Heritage management. This has been achieved through our facilitation of consultation between government land management agencies, the Authority and the Rainforest Aboriginal community using the skills of our Community Liaison Officers.

The successful negotiation of the Wet Tropics Regional Agreement is a major achievement for the Authority, land management agencies and Rainforest Aboriginal people. The Agreement formalises the full engagement of Rainforest Aboriginal people in World Heritage management and represents a cooperative partnership approach between Traditional Owners, the Queensland and Australian Governments and the Authority. One outcome of the Agreement is the establishment of an Aboriginal Rainforest Council that will be given recognition as a statutory advisory committee to the Wet Tropics Board. The Agreement has been forwarded to Ministerial Council for endorsement.

An increased promotion of Wet Tropics World Heritage values in the school education curriculum has produced a number of initiatives aimed at school children in the region. A regular column in the The Cairns Post as part of the Newspapers in Education section has given the Authority exposure to regional schools and media. We hope to build on these initiatives through the schools’ education component of the Community Engagement Strategy next year.

Our stakeholder liaison groups continue to make a valuable contribution to management of the World Heritage Area. Feedback from the Conservation Sector Liaison Group was particularly valuable in developing the Wet Tropics Conservation Strategy. The Tourism Industry Liaison Group has played a significant role in helping finalise a tour guide accreditation scheme for the World Heritage Area. The Landholders and Neighbours Liaison Group continues to assist the Authority’s work with residents in regard to land management issues such as feral species control. Forums and field days were held during the year. The stakeholder liaison groups supplement the valuable advice received from the Community Consultative Committee and Scientific Advisory Committee. Both these committees’ terms expired at the end of the year and action is underway to appoint new committees for next year.

Our Cassowary Awards for 2003 were another success. The State Environment Minister the Honourable Dean Wells MP presented eight awards to some special individuals who had made an outstanding contribution towards the conservation of the World Heritage

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Area. The awards were held at Rainforest Habitat Wildlife Sanctuary at Port Douglas which sponsored the event along with Tourism Queensland and the Australian Department of Industry, Tourism and Resources. The Authority is very fortunate to be supported by such a wide variety of dedicated professionals and volunteers and it is extremely rewarding to see some o f these individuals receive recognition.

Finally, I would like to thank Authority staff and the Wet Tropics Board for their support during my term. The chair and my fellow board members have committed considerable time and effort to championing the World Heritage Area and guiding the Authority in its role. Their objectiveness, experience and wise counsel have been invaluable to me as executive director. The Authority’s staff are highly committed and work with a passion in performing their various roles. It has been a privilege to lead this team of dedicated

professionals who have met the challenges put to them. I wish the Authority continued success in the future. It has an important role to play in helping establish the benchmarks for World Heritage management.

Russell Watkinson Executive Director Wet Tropics Management Authority

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Introduction World Heritage The World Heritage Convention has been ratified by 178 countries (as of 1 May 2004) [1]. Australia became a signatory in 1974 and there are currently sixteen Australian properties on the World Heritage list [2]. World Heritage listing is recognition by the

international community that an area is such an outstanding example of the world’s natural or cultural heritage that its conservation is of value to all people.

The Wet Tropics of Queensland World Heritage Area is an area of outstanding natural values, meeting all four natural criteria for World Heritage listing and fulfilling the necessary conditions of integrity. The criteria current at the time of listing (December 1988) and specified in the nomination [3] were:

1. Outstanding examples representing the major stages of the earth’s evolutionary' history

2. Outstanding examples representing significant ongoing geological processes, biological evolution and man’s interaction with his natural environment

3. Superlative natural phenomena, formations or features or areas o f exceptional natural beauty

4. The most important and significant natural habitats where threatened species of plants and animals of outstanding universal value from the point of view of science and conservation still survive.

Obligations under the World Heritage convention and statutory management arrangements It is an annual, statutory requirement under section 63(1) of Queensland’s Wet Tropics World Heritage Protection and Management Act 1993 [4] and section 10 of the Commonwealth’s Wet Tropics o f Queensland World Heritage Area Conservation Act

1994 [5] for the Authority to prepare this annual, State of the Wet Tropics and financial report. The Authority has produced these reports on an annual basis since 1994.

Report format and approach

Format

This report focuses on the activities of the Authority during 2003-2004 and its partnership approach to achieving protection and presentation of the Area. The State and Condition Report (the State of Wet Tropics Report) at Appendix II provides further information on some of the biodiversity values of the Area, including their current condition and trends related to these values since the time of inscription in 1988. The Authority is required to provide a comprehensive (periodic) report and assessment of the Area to UNESCO every six years. This was last completed in 2002.

This document essentially follows a ‘triple bottom line’ reporting framework and is organised as follows:

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Introduction Provides contextual information for understanding the international importance of the Property, Australia’s obligations under the World Heritage convention and the format of

the report.

Governance This section provides a broad overview of the legislative functions of the Authority, the management arrangements and the relationship of the Authority with other land management agencies.

Environment report The Environment Report provides a brief description of specific World Heritage legal and institutional arrangements for conserving the values of the Property. Specifically, this section outlines the Authority’s responses to pressures during 2003-2004.

Social and cultural report Describes a range of actions and mechanisms being employed or supported by the Authority which aim to increase the relevance of the Property to the community through presentation, education, community involvement, partnerships and collaborations (fostering a role for the Property in the life of the community).

Human resources and financial report Describes the management structures and arrangements and the financial resources which have been enacted and employed over the past year to manage the World Heritage Area.

State and condition report This report is found in Appendix II. It provides a broad overview of the integrity of the Area. This report is primarily concerned with the biodiversity values of the Area. The report uses some of the core indicators developed by the Authority and its Scientific Advisory Committee [6] which were endorsed by the Wet Tropics Board in 1999. This set of core indicators, when fully implemented, will provide rigorous data describing the major biodiversity, social and cultural trends and impacts on attributes of World Heritage significance.

Terminology and abbreviations Throughout this document the Wet Tropics of Queensland World Heritage Area is referred to as ‘the Property’ (consistent with UNESCO terminology) or ‘the WHA’ or ‘the Area’, while the larger Wet Tropics biogeographic region (bioregion) of which the

Property is an integral part is referred to as either ‘the region’ or the ‘Wet Tropics’. The description and delineation of the Wet Tropics bioregion is described in Saltier & Williams [7] and is consistent with the Interim Biogeographic Regionalisation for Australia [8]. The Wet Tropics Management Authority is referred to as the Authority while the acronyms QPWS and EPA are used to denote the Queensland Parks and

Wildlife Service and the Environmental Protection Agency respectively. The Department of Natural Resources Mines and Energy is referred to NRM&E.

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Governance Report Enabling legislation

The Wet Tropics World Heritage Area is an area of outstanding natural values, meeting all four natural criteria for World Heritage listing. The Authority operates under the Wet Tropics World Heritage Protection and Management Act 1993. This is the Queensland legislation, which sets out the role of the Authority in managing the World Heritage Area. The Queensland legislation, the Wet Tropics World Heritage Protection and Management Act 1993, was proclaimed on 1 November 1993, apart from sections 56 and 57. The

Commonwealth legislation, the Wet Tropics o f Queensland World Heritage Area Conservation Act 1994, (Commonwealth Act) was proclaimed on 15 March 1994. It has now been replaced by the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.

The Wet Tropics World Heritage Protection and Management Act also provides the legislative basis for the Wet Tropics Management Plan 1998 which regulates land use activities in the World Heritage Area through a zoning and permit system. The Plan was gazetted 22 May 1998 and commenced operation on 1 September 1998. Section 56 of the Queensland Act, which prohibits the destruction o f forest products, and section 57 which sets out compensation provisions, also commenced on 1 September 1998.

Australia’s obligations under the World Heritage Convention are to ensure the protection, conservation, presentation, rehabilitation, and transmission to future generations, of the natural heritage of the Property [9], The Wet Tropics World Heritage Area Management Scheme is an intergovernmental agreement signed by the Prime Minister and the Premier

of Queensland in 1990. To achieve this Primary Goal, a Commonwealth and State intergovernmental agreement was entered into which provides for Wet Tropics Ministerial Council, comprising two Commonwealth and two State ministers. The agreement is scheduled in the Queensland Act and given effect by section three of the Commonwealth Act. Australian and State Ministers last revised it in December 1995.

The Authority’s functions are to: • develop and implement policies and programs for management of the Wet Tropics Area • formulate implementation performance indicators for approved policies and programs • advise and make recommendations to the Minister and the Ministerial Council • prepare and implement management plans for the Area • administer funding arrangements • facilitate and enter into Cooperative Management Agreements • rehabilitate and restore the Area • gather, research, analyse and disseminate information on the Area • develop public and community education programs • promote the Area locally, nationally and internationally • liaise with State and Australian governments, agencies and international organisations • monitor the state of the Area • advise and report to the Minister and the Ministerial Council on the state of the Area,

and

• perform functions incidental to the above functions.

In performing its functions the Authority must, as far as practicable, consider Aboriginal tradition and liaise and cooperate with Aboriginal people particularly concerned with the World Heritage Area. In assessing permit applications the Authority must refer to section

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62 of the Wet Tropics Management Plan, guideline three ‘Consulting Aboriginal People Particularly Concerned with the land in the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area’.

The Authority is a small organisation and works in partnership with other agencies and stakeholder interest groups. The Authority has produced a range of strategic planning documents (Figure 1), which guide the World Heritage Area in line with it statutory responsibilities.

Statutory m anagem ent arrangements

A Commonwealth and State Intergovernmental Agreement establishes the Wet Tropics Ministerial Council which comprises two Australian Government and two State Government Ministers. The Queensland Minister for Environment chairs the Council.

The Wet Tropics Management Authority is a body corporate, with statutory powers defined under the Wet Tropics World Heritage Protection and Management Act 1993 [4], A Board of Directors is also set up under the Act and consists of six directors; five of these are private citizens who serve as directors in a part-time capacity. Two Directors are nominated by the Commonwealth and two by the State. The chairperson is nominated by Ministerial Council and the Executive Director of the Authority is a non-voting Board Director.

At the State Government level, the Authority lies within the environment portfolio. As part of the Queensland public sector, the Authority is subject to established public sector legislation, regulations, standards and guidelines governing administrative functions and arrangements.

The Director-General of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is the accountable officer for the Authority under the Financial Administration and Audit Act 1997. The Authority is responsible to the Director-General regarding compliance with state government administrative and financial standards. At the Australian Government level, the Authority reports to the Minister for the Environment and Heritage through their department.

Conservation land management agencies

The Authority is responsible for policy, strategic planning, developing management standards, administration of the statutory management plan, monitoring and the coordination o f on-ground management to ensure the World Heritage Area is properly protected and conserved for future generations. The Authority is not responsible for day- to-day management issues such as infrastructure maintenance and pest and weed control. These are the responsibility of the respective governing land managers and include QPWS, 14 local government authorities including two Aboriginal Community Councils, DNRM&E and relevant infrastructure service providers for power, water and roads.

A Principal Agencies Forum meets every six weeks to ensure that management activities are coordinated between the Authority, DNRM&E and QPWS. To prioritise and coordinate management activities within the protected area estate within the World Heritage Area, a Service Agreement is developed each year between the Authority and

QPWS. The Service Agreement outlines products and services to be provided by the Authority and QPWS to mutually support effective management of the World Heritage Area.

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Figure 1. Strategic planning framework for the Authority

Wet Tropics World Heritage Protection and Management Act (1993)

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Protection through Partnerships \

Presentation Role in the life of the community

Conservation Rehabilitation -4-------► Protection -4 -Transmission

Monitoring and Report ·4

Aboriginal involvement

Management Plan

Walking Strategy

Marketing Action Plan

Conservation Strategy

Research and Information Needs

Nature Based Tourism Strategy

State of the Wet T ropics Report

Strategic Plan 5 years

Corporate Communications Plan

Community Engagement Strategy

Regional Agreement

Interim Negotiating Forum

Wet Tropics M inisterial Council

At 30 June 2004, the Council was chaired by the Honourable John Mickel MP, Queensland Minister for the Environment. Members of the council were the Honourable Dr David Kemp MP, Federal Minister for the Environment and Heritage, the Honourable Margaret Keech MLA, Queensland Minister for Tourism, Fair Trading and Wine Industry, and the Honourable Joe Hockey MP, Federal Minister for Small Business and Tourism.

The Wet Tropics Ministerial Council did not meet in the 2003-2004 financial year. However, all urgent business was undertaken through out-of-session papers.

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WTMA B oard o f D irectors

At 30 June the Board was chaired by Lieutenant General John Grey AC (retired), appointed on 24 April 2003. Directors were Australian Government nominees Mr Percy Neal, appointed on 24 December 2000 and resigned on 26 March 2004, and Mr Tom Gilmore, appointed on 9 October 2003; Queensland nominees Ms Anne Portess,

appointed 24 December 2000 and Mr Peter Valentine appointed on 24 December 2000. Mr Russell Watkinson appointed Executive Director to the Authority, 16 March 1998 remained in his position as a non-voting member of the Board. One Australian Government nominee position was vacant at 30 June 2004.

Meetings and dates The Authority Board of Directors met in Cairns on 19-20 November 2003, 18 December 2003, 11-12 February 2004, 10-11 May 2004 and 20 May 2004.

Board remuneration Board costs including meeting fees, special assignment fees, airfares and travel allowances for 2003-2004 were $37,025.43.

Statutory groups

The Community Consultative Committee (CCC) is a statutory committee under the Act and is appointed by the Board. Its function is to provide advice on the views of the regional community on specific management issues of concern or interest to the community. Members of the Committee are selected from a broad range of stakeholders

including conservation, education, tourism, rural, scientific, recreation and local government interests.

The statutory Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC) advises the Board on scientific matters. Members of the scientific community nominate for the committee and are appointed by the Board every three years. The role of the SAC includes the identification and evaluation of research needs in all areas of science including the social, biological and physical sciences. The committee also evaluates the effectiveness of the Authority's management and is called upon to examine and advise on development proposals and perceived threats to the Property.

Wet Tropics Community Consultative Committee

Chairperson Mr Nigel Stork (CEO Rainforest Cooperative Research Centre)

Members Mr Claude Beeron and Mr Charles Morganson (Girringun Aboriginal Corporation), Ms Jax Bergersen (conservation), Mrs Truus Biddlecombe (recreation), Mr Kevin Burton (rural interests), Mr Geoffrey Bush (rural interests), Mr John Courtenay (tourism), Mr

Roy Dickson (neighbour), Cr Tom Gilmore (local government), Ms Jane Lynch (conservation), Ms Robin Maxwell (community), Cr Marjorie Norris (local government), Cr Jeff Pezzutti (local government), Cr Keith Phillips (local government), Mr Ross Rogers (rural interests/commerce), Mr Stephen Russell (environment/tourism), Mr Allen

Sheather (conservation), Mr Max Shepherd (tourism), Cr Les Tyrell (local government), Ms Linda Venn (community), Mr Bruce Williams (education), Mr Norman Whitney (rural interests/neighbour). In November 2003, new members Diana Wood and Nicky Hungerford replaced Robin Maxwell and Jane Lynch respectively.

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Meetings and dates 14 November 2003, 6 February 2004, and 7 May 2004 (all meetings were held in Cairns).

Remuneration Members do not receive sitting fees. The committee cost $6,606.21 in 2003-2004, mostly for reimbursed travel expenses and meetings. The new CCC commenced on 8 June 2004 for a three-year term.

Wet Tropics Scientific Advisory Committee

Chairperson Dr Chris Margules

Members A new Scientific Advisoiy Committee was appointed by the Board on 15 May 2004 for a three-year term. The new SAC members are Dr Joan Bentrupperbaumer, Prof. Ralph Buckley, Dr Romy Griener, Dr Rosemary Hill, Dr Marcus Lane, Dr Henrietta Marrie, Prof. Bruce Prideaux, and Mr Peter Stanton.

Meetings and Dates The SAC met for an induction workshop on the 25 May, and held their first meeting on 26 May. Both meetings were held in Caims.

Remuneration Members do not receive sitting fees. The committee cost $3,051.21 mostly for reimbursed travel expenses.

Proposed new Queensland World Heritage legislation

The Board has been briefed on proposals by the Queensland Government to establish a state World Heritage body. If implemented this could impact on the Authority and will need considerable community and industry consultation beforehand.

Australian Rainforest Foundation

The Australian Rainforest Foundation (ARF) is a not-for-profit independent company established by the Authority in 1996. Its primary goal is to raise private sector funds to support the conservation of the Area and surrounds. The Authority continued to provide a variety of administrative and other in-kind support to the Foundation during the year.

In 2002 the Authority entered into an agreement with the ARF to undertake a land acquisition and conservation program in the Daintree supported by $1 million seed funding from the Wet Tropics Ministerial Council. This was a major component of implementing the Daintree Futures Study and good progress was made against the business plan agreed between the ARF and the Authority. The ARF have secured a number of important blocks in the Daintree and undertaken a number of important marketing initiatives. The Foundation is providing quarterly progress reports to the Authority and an annual report to the Wet Tropics Ministerial Council.

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Environment Report

General Pressures and Responses This Environment report outlines actions by the Authority during 2003-04 in response to the Authority’s environmental pressures impacting of the World Heritage Area. Other information regarding the state and condition of the World Heritage Area is found in Appendix II.

Regional growth, development and population increase are the major causes of direct and indirect pressures on the Property. The rapid growth rate of the regional population surrounding the Property has led to clearing for urban and agricultural expansions, greater demands for energy supplies and their distribution, the upgrading and duplication of transport corridors, increased demands for high quality water supplies for domestic, agricultural and industrial uses, increases in the number and spread of pest species and greater demands for recreation and tourism facilities [10]. These pressures may be exacerbated by predicted changes to climate arising from global warming.

Statutory protection The Wet Tropics World Heritage Protection and Management Act 1993 [4], together with its subordinate statute, the Wet Tropics Management Plan 1998 [11], provide the legal framework and statutory mechanisms for management of the Property (see also the accompanying Governance Report).

In general, the legislation regulates activities within the Property that have the potential to impact on World Heritage values including the destruction or disturbance to native vegetation, watercourses or earth [12], The four key components of the statutory Plan include:

1. A zoning scheme

The Plan divides the Property into four management zones, based on a 'distance from disturbance’ model. Zones determine types of activities allowed.

2. A permit system

The Plan, while administered by the Authority, also establishes other agencies such as QPWS as permit issuing bodies. The Plan prescribes prohibited activities, allowed activities and activities allowed under permit.

3. Assessment guidelines and codes o f practice Decision makers must have regard of Board approved assessment guidelines and codes of practice when issuing a permit or assessing proposals.

4. Cooperative management agreements Voluntary co-operative management agreements are negotiated with landholders who are willing to manage their land in a way that will benefit the World Heritage Area.

The statutory seven-year review of the Wet Tropics Management Plan 1998 has commenced. Initial public consultation will occur in October. Public information leaflets will advise the public of the review process and other proposed changes to the Plan. A submission has been made to the Department of Premier and Cabinet seeking an

exemption from the Statutory Instruments Act (1992), which would otherwise require a new Plan to be prepared in 2008.

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A dm inistering the Plan

The Authority handles the larger, more complex permit applications under the Wet Tropics Plan. During the year the Authority assessed the environmental impacts of three significant development proposals. These were:

• the refurbishment of a high voltage powerline in the Barron Gorge using innovative sand and water blasting techniques {proponent: Powerlink Queensland) • the construction of a major sewage pipeline connecting Mission Beach to an upgraded treatment works at Tully (proponent: Cardwell Shire Council)', and • the upgrade of a steep section of road near Wallaman Falls (proponent: Hinchinbrook

Shire Council).

All works were approved and were required to be undertaken in conformity with Authority approved Codes of Practice and Environmental Management Plans.

During the year the Authority also assessed and issued a permit for the operation and maintenance of an aquaculture facility near Hinchinbrook Island (proponent: Lyntune Pty Ltd).

Two of the most significant permit applications currently being prepared for assessment by the Authority are a proposal by Powerlink Queensland to upgrade the Kareeya to Innisfail powerline to 275KV capacity and the proposed construction by the Department of Main Roads (DMR) of a four lane highway from Smithfield to Kuranda. Both of these proposals have the potential to have significant impacts on the World Heritage Area. The Authority is awaiting further information from Powerlink prior to undertaking its assessment of the application and continues to work closely with DMR providing advice on permit application and rezoning requirements regarding the proposed Kuranda Range Road upgrading.

In August 2003 the Authority refused an application by Mareeba Shire Council to rezone a 1.1km section of the World Heritage Area to allow the construction of an alternative access road for residents of Russett Park near Kuranda when the Barron River is in flood. The Authority did not approve the application because the proposed road would traverse one of the narrowest sections of the World Heritage Area which is an important corridor for fauna movement, including the endangered cassowary, and because the Authority considered that there were prudent and feasible alternatives. The Authority has supported Council bids for funds from the Queensland and Australian Governments to construct a higher level crossing of the Barron River as a prudent and feasible alternative.

The electronic permit database that was introduced in 2001-2002 has been upgraded to enable staff to better track applications and monitor environmental performance and reporting requirements. Information on permit applications under assessment and recent permit decisions is now available on the Authority’s website.

Staff assessed and provided advice to DNRM&E, local government and landholders on over 110 proposals within and adjoining the Property. They included grazing leases, agricultural and residential leases, tenure changes, permits to occupy, boundary enquiries and road openings and closures.

Staff have worked closely with QPWS to update the Wet Tropics Permit Manual in line with a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) being developed between the two agencies. The manual sets out the assessment procedures QPWS will follow when

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undertaking its responsibilities as a Wet Tropics permit entity or delegate, and for the self­ assessment of activities on protected areas within the World Heritage Area.

Permits issued under the Wet Tropics Management Plan 1998 by QPWS as a permit entity during the 2003-2004 year totalled 1021. All but one of these permits was for the use of motor vehicles on ‘presentation restricted’ and ‘management’ roads.

Protected Area tenures, cooperative management, acquisition and covenants

State Forest Transfer

QPWS is currently undertaking a program to transfer State Forests, Timber Reserves and some Unallocated State Lands within the World Heritage Area region to protected area tenures under the Nature Conservation Act (1992). The first step in this tenure change process is the redesignation of areas to the interim holding tenure of ‘Forest Reserve’. The transfer of 323,999ha of State Forests and Timber Reserves to Forest Reserves occurred in 2001 with a further 141,900ha gazetted in 2003. An additional 34,000ha of State Forests and Timber Reserves and 38,000ha of Unallocated State Lands (USL) are currently being negotiated for future transfer to protected area tenure. The USL was revoked from State Forest and Timber Reserve for this purpose between 1991 and 1993 due to its environmental significance. A consultation program is being undertaken by QPWS to develop management strategies for the new protected areas. Over 80% of the

Property will be managed as National Parks and other protected areas when the State Forest transfer process is completed.

Cooperative management

Conservation management agreements with landholders are designed to ensure that activities on private land are sympathetic with maintaining important habitat and afford protection for wildlife.

A wide range of initiatives have been developed aimed at cooperative management and giving the Property a function in the life of the community. They included actual involvement of the community in management, the establishment of stakeholder advisory and liaison groups, to the production and distribution of educational, interpretative and

awareness raising materials. These initiatives are described in detail in the accompanying Social and Cultural Report.

There are more than 2,500 individual blocks of land adjoining the Property’s 3000km boundary. Both Queensland’s Wet Tropics World Heritage Protection and Management Act 1993 [4] and the statutory Wet Tropics Management Plan 1998 [11] apply only to lands within the boundaries of the World Heritage Area and not to neighbouring properties. However, a cooperative approach to management is being actively pursued

with neighbours including issues such as the control of feral pigs, weeds and fire management.

Cooperative Management Agreements (CMAs) are also actively canvassed with landholders, Aboriginal peoples and other parties both within and adjoining the Property as a means of achieving sympathetic management.

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Resolution o f compensation claims

With the introduction of the Wet Tropics Management Plan 1998 and the concurrent commencement of sections 56 (prohibited acts) and 57 (compensation) of the Wet Tropics World Heritage Protection and Management Act 1993, landholders who believed that their property had been injuriously affected by restrictions or prohibitions were able to lodge compensation claims against the Authority. Some ten claims were lodged against the Authority. Only two have proceeded to court. The first claim was finalised last financial year and the second was resolved through out of court negotiations. The negotiated agreement included the acquisition of 98 undeveloped freehold lots to the north of Russell Heads, 45km south of Cairns for national park purposes. This acquisition guarantees the protection of the last intact freshwater swamp and complex sand dune system in the coastal lowlands of the World Heritage Area.

Acquisition o f land

Voluntary acquisition of land is an important means to protect habitat threatened by the processes of land clearing and fragmentation. Sometimes the land may be given a protected area status. For example, Australian and Queensland governments funded $22 million to the Daintree Rescue Program in 1994 through which 83 properties totalling

l,640ha were purchased on a voluntary basis for their natural values or for future management purposes such as visitor facilities. The Daintree Rainforest Foundation has acquired six parcels of land to protect a significant cassowary corridor in Cow Bay. This corridor has been registered under a Nature Refuge agreement with QPWS.

One million dollars was allocated to the Australian Rainforest Foundation (ARF) in 2002 to undertake further land acquisition, consolidation, covenanting and re-sale using a ‘revolving land fund’ concept. The ARF was expected to raise corporate sector funds to support the initial public investment, and to progress the sustainable future for the Daintree outlines in the Daintree Futures Study. The ARF acquired four blocks of land over the period, but suspended further land acquisition pending the outcomes of the proposed new Douglas Shire Council planning scheme.

Edmund Kennedy National Park was extended through acquisition of about 3,250ha to protect mahogany glider habitat. A large portion o f Wyvuri swamp has been acquired to extend protection of wetland systems and increase Russell River National Park by 720ha. The State Government recently acquired 940ha o f partly degraded private land at Trinity

Inlet for conservation, rehabilitation and scenic amenity. In 2002-2003 the Australian Wildlife Conservancy purchased the 40,000ha Mt Zero property and the adjoining 20,000ha Taravale Station, adjacent to the World Heritage Area 65km from Townsville. These properties cover the transition zone between the Wet Tropics rainforests and the dry inland plains. They include a range of threatened habitats and are rich in threatened Wet Tropics species such as the northern bettong, spotted-tailed quoll and yellow-bellied glider.

Agreements and covenants can be placed on acquired land to strictly limit clearing and development upon resale. This mechanism allows for turnover of the limited funds available for this expensive process. For example, Johnstone Shire Council has initiated ‘buy back’ and covenant programs funded by NHT and Bushcare.

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Natural resource strategies and policies

Conservation Strategy

The Authority completed the Conservation Strategy [13] during 2003-2004. The Strategy identifies strategic management responses to the range of pressures affecting the state of the Property. The strategy details the natural values of the Property and the various threats to these values. Threatening processes which are addressed include climate change, habitat fragmentation, weeds, feral animals, introduced pathogens, and changes to fire regimes, water flows and drainage. The Strategy will assist land managers to better

allocate available resources to ensure that on-ground conservation activities are directed to priority issues. The development of the Strategy included extensive consultation with relevant stakeholders. A steering committee which included representation from QPWS, the conservation sector, local government, primary producers, the tourism industry and

Rainforest Aboriginal people guided development of the strategy.

Wet Tropics Natural Resource Management Plan

The Conservation Strategy has been used as a key resource document for informing the Wet Tropics Natural Resource Management Plan (NRM Plan) currently being prepared under NHT arrangements [14]. The priorities established by the Conservation Strategy will be used to inform relevant sections of the NRM Plan.

The NRM Plan will establish guidelines and priorities for projects to be funded through the Wet Tropics NRM Board over the next five years. Investment will include an estimated $2 million of NHT funding each year as well as other investment in the region.

Natural resource management

Liaison with landowners, officers from QPWS and DNRM&E and local councils has been undertaken by Authority staff to coordinate the following programs: • fire management policies and the development of a controlled burning program across different tenures within the Property

• development of an updated grazing policy in the World Heritage Area • targeted pest management programs, including a successful field day at Malanda to demonstrate small property weed management • mapping and field trials for the control of Annona glabra (pond apple). The Natural

Heritage Trust (NHT) Weeds of National Significance program provided funding.

Research, monitoring and information delivery

Rainforest Cooperative Research Centre

The ongoing work of the Rainforest Cooperative Research Centre (Rainforest CRC) as a national centre for rainforest research and education, and its partnership arrangements with the Authority has resulted in a major increase in applied research effort being directed at management issues.

The Centre brings together a range of experts in the following key areas of research: • environmental planning and management in rainforest regions • evaluating ecosystem goods and services in a dynamic landscape • rainforest visitation, business, interpretation and presentation • managing and monitoring impacts arising from rainforest access • rehabilitation and restoration, including riparian

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• conservation principles and management, and • aboriginal and collaborative management.

Vegetation mapping

The acquisition and use of geographic information underpins the management of the Property. An important ongoing project for the Authority is the remapping of the vegetation of the Wet Tropics biogeographic region [15] at an accuracy of 1:50,000. Field mapping of all 37 map sheets covering the Wet Tropics bioregion was completed during

2003-2004 under contract by Peter and David Stanton. Considerable database and geographic information systems (GIS) data capture by the Authority and the Queensland Herbarium will still be required over 2004-05 to complete this project.

Besides providing invaluable information for World Heritage management, the information has been made available to the Queensland Herbarium as the basis for the updating, derivation and mapping of the regional ecosystems o f the Wet Tropics and their consequential statutory application under the State’s Vegetation Management Act 1999. The mapping also provided key data in identifying priority biodiversity areas for recognition under both the Wet Tropics Conservation Strategy and the Wet Tropics Natural Resources Management Plan.

Conservation Information Access Project

The primary data source for this project is the Stanton vegetation mapping and survey reports [15], which describe the individual vegetation communities (numbering over 200 at this stage), their condition, and their conservation values. These Stanton reports also include information and recommendations for conservation planning and management of the Wet Tropics relating to these vegetation communities. The purpose of the Conservation Information Access project is to deliver this conservation information, knowledge and advice in a readily accessible and user-friendly format for land-use planners, operations staff and other land managers within the Area.

Some of this information has already been used by the Authority to develop maps for the Wet Tropics Conservation Strategy and the Johnstone Shire Council Landholder’s information book. It has also been used to provide advice to QPWS on their Fire Management Plans, and has assisted a number of local governments for a variety of planning purposes. The basic components of the project include a range of theme-based conservation maps, GIS-based vegetation maps, and a web-based search engine to search for specific issues of interest through the use of ‘key-words’.

Specific management issues and responses

Climate change

There is an increasing body of scientific research that gives a collective picture of a warming world and more extreme fluctuations in the climate system. The build up of energy-trapping gases from human activities is contributing to the present accelerated rate of global warming observed over the last 100 years. Predicted warming for coastal north east Queensland is 1.4 to 5.8° C by 2100, with +4% to 10% changes in rainfall per degree of warming [16].

Climate change is emerging as a major threat to the long-term conservation and transmission of World Heritage values to future generations, and will exacerbate the

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impacts of other threatening processes. Climate change has the capacity to radically alter ecosystem types and boundaries. It may cause ecosystem disturbances, modify waterflows and fire regimes, and increase vulnerability to invasion by feral animals, weeds and pathogens. Ecosystems that are already fragmented and disrupted are less able to adapt to

any changes wrought by climate change. Rare and endemic fauna and flora lacking the ability to adapt to new ecological niches may be lost, diminishing the values of the Property.

The Wet Tropics World Heritage Area is especially vulnerable to climate change, being fragmented and surrounded by agricultural and urban development. The Area has a high level of locally endemic and spatially restricted species. These species rely on specialised and isolated habitats such as mountaintops. Models, developed by researchers at the Rainforest CRC and presented during 2003-2004, predict that even minimal global warming o f predictions of 1°C will have significant consequences within the Area, such as extinction of some plant and animal species. Preliminary modelling results indicate that it is possible that up to 66% of all the Wet Tropics endemic vertebrate faunal species may be lost over the next 50 to 100 years [17] under medium level temperature rises within the predicted range.

At present we do not understand the full extent of what might be threatened by rapid climate change and where the threats might be greatest. The interaction of climate change impacts with other threats such as regional clearing and fragmentation, fire, weeds and feral animals is unknown. The Rainforest CRC has commenced some research to help

answer these questions to assist the Authority in determining feasible proactive regional- scale management options to respond to predicted changes. However, due to financial constraints during 2003-2004 the Authority has been unable to provide funding to support this research.

Community services infrastructure

Under the Wet Tropics Management Plan [11] infrastructure agencies require a permit to undertake maintenance activities [12]. One tool employed by the Authority and infrastructure agencies to mitigate impacts is the use of environmental Codes of Practice which are also stipulated as a condition of Wet Tropics permits. Codes of Practice have been produced by the Authority in partnership with infrastructure agencies for road [18],

electricity [19] and water [20] infrastructure.

As well as these general Code of Practice provisions, the Authority also requires that Environmental Management Plans (EMP) be developed as an additional condition of some permits to allow more explicit compliance monitoring. EMPs are now a requirement for permits associated with the maintenance of all major powerline easements and roads

within the Property. The intention of these EMPs is to provide detailed mitigation strategies for potential maintenance activity impacts to specify appropriate monitoring; and if an undesirable or unforeseen level of impact occurs, specify the appropriate corrective action.

There is currently 1217km of roads traversing the Area. Some are part of the regional transport network linking urban areas and major highway decisions. Others are used for recreation, tourism, research, education, management, or access to private land or public utilities.

• In 2003-2004 the Wet Tropic region experienced above average rainfall. This was after two seasons of unseasonally dry years. This resulted in a number of significant

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road slips in the region including the Gillies Highway. Major slips along the Captain Cook Highway (north of Turtle Cove) and Kuranda Range Road closed these roads for a number of days. Queensland Department of Main Roads (DMR) worked in collaboration with the Authority to reduce the impact of maintenance and repairs of these roads. Despite using best practice, a number of significant visual scars have been created alongside these heavily used roads.

• The Authority was involved with setting the terms of reference and reviewing the Integrated Transport Study fo r the Kuranda Range Impact Assessment Study. This is the major transport link between Caims and the Atherton Tablelands and has been identified in the FNQ Regional Plan as inadequate for projected regional growth

needs.

• A range of mitigation strategies are being implemented along the El Arish to Mission Beach Road and Tully-Mission Beach Road [21], as part of permit conditions imposed by the Authority aimed at reducing the negative impacts o f these roads on the conservation of the cassowary.

Electricity supply infrastructure

Within the Property are an assortment of electricity supply facilities including: • three hydro-electric schemes with power stations and associated dams, tunnels and other works • 222km of high voltage power transmission lines • 98km of power distribution lines • 1 substation • various ancillary facilities such as roads, buildings, houses and workshops.

The Authority continued to work with the electricity industry during 2003-2004 on the assessment of the Kareeya to Innisfail high voltage powerline proposal.

Water extraction and storage

Eight local authorities have 22 domestic water intakes within the Property, each with associated pipelines, access roads and powerlines. Although there has been no increase in the number of water impoundments inside the Property since listing, there has been a 5ha enlargement to the Herberton water supply and increases in the off-take capacity of the Mossman, Caims, Mission Beach, Cardwell and Crystal Creek water supplies.

There are also many impacts on stream flows originating from outside the Property which affect the in-stream condition of watercourses in the Property.

The Rainforest CRC is currently undertaking several projects examining a range of freshwater management issues including environmental flow requirements, visitor use impacts on water quality and ecology, stream biodiversity, stream health and riparian zone requirements, environmentally sensitive infrastructure design and the environmental goods and services provided by natural waterways. O f particular note is current research on culvert design aimed at reducing the fragmenting impact of traditional culvert designs on aquatic ecosystems.

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Pest animals

Pest animal species can impact on ecosystems and species by predation, competition for food or breeding areas, pest-induced habitat changes and transmission of parasites and other disease organisms. Harrison & Congdon [22] assessed the status of the 28 naturalised vertebrate species within the region and found that the current major vertebrate pests are the pig, cat, cane toad and dog/dingo. These species achieved a high ranking due to their current levels of ecological impacts and because of the lack of feasible options to control them. Pest species identified with significant future impact potential include feral deer, fox, and exotic freshwater fish species.

All local government jurisdictions within the region have developed Pest Management Plans under the Land Protection (Pests and Stock Route Management) Act 2002, which identify and target the major environmental and agricultural pest animals found within their jurisdictions. Declaration of a pest imposes legal responsibilities on all landholders, local governments and state government agencies to control the pest on lands uiider their management.

Authority staff actively participated in meetings concerning pest management as members of the Far North Queensland Pest Advisory Forum and Far North Queensland Feral Pig Committee.

The Community Based Feral Pig Trapping program is an example of land managers and primary producers working together to deal with a mutual problem. Funding for the program came principally from the Authority, NRM&E, NHT and QPWS, with minor

funding coming from a range of other sources. While the trapping program has had a minimal effect on pig populations in the region, it has been successful at reducing pig damage in local areas. Caims City Council has also trialled poison baiting of pigs in the Copperlode Dam area with the support o f the Authority

Feral deer have the potential to spread throughout much of the region. Populations have been identified in the Mission Beach, East Palmerston and Upper Daradgee areas where they have escaped from farms. Species include rusa deer (native to Indonesia) and chital deer (native to India and Sri Lanka). The region’s sclerophyll communities are considered to be particularly susceptible to their invasion. Feral deer can cause significant degradation to native vegetation communities and revegetation areas through browsing, grazing and trampling if they become established. They can compete with native fauna for

habitat and food. Feral deer numbers can be reduced through shooting programs, but trapping may prove to be a more effective control method while deer are still in small numbers. Discussions with deer farmers to control escapes and restrict the sale of deer as pets are important elements to preventing the establishment of another feral animal in the region. The Authority has sought NHT funding to implement this approach in 2004-05.

The stocking of cattle is also a concern in the World Heritage Area. Cattle impact on soil and vegetation through grazing and trampling. Grazing activities may also include the introduction of exotic pasture species. There are currently 30 grazing properties in the Area and some cattle have become feral. These properties make up approximately 8% of the Property including:

•15 Special Leases issued under the Land Act 1994 • seven Pastoral Holdings issued under the Land Act 1994 • two Freehold Properties • one non competitive Lease issued under the Land Act 1994

• three annual Occupational Licenses issued under the Land Act 1994, and • two Stock Grazing Permits issued under the Forestry Act 1959.

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In 2003-2004 the Wet Tropics Management Authority revised its grazing policy. Its objective is to have cattle grazing phased out in the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area except where it can be demonstrated that grazing activity is beneficial to World Heritage management and no prudent and feasible management alternatives are available. The Wet Tropics Management Authority will generally continue to oppose the renewal of grazing authorities or expansion of grazing activities within the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area.

Since the introduction of the Recreational Fishing Enhancement Program (RFEP) in 1986, nearly 2 million fish have been stocked in the Wet Tropics [23], and the rate of stocking is increasing. In 2002 the Authority became aware o f fish stocking practices occurring in the Area. The main concern is stocking by large predatory species not native to the upland

Wet Tropics streams. The Authority is developing a fish stocking policy and is working with the Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries to regulate future stocking programs within the Area.

Environmental weeds

Most environmental weed invasions are closely related to disturbances caused by human activity. In the Property itself, the majority of weeds are associated with service corridor clearings such as powerline easements and roads verges which act as conduits for weed dispersal.

Within the Wet Tropics bioregion, 508 exotic plant taxa have been identified as having become naturalised, which amounts to almost 11 % of the region’s native flora. This represents almost 39% of Queensland’s naturalised alien plant species [24], About 40 of these regional naturalisations are currently considered environmental weeds within the Property.

All local government jurisdictions within the region have developed Pest Management Plans under the Land Protection (Pests and Stock Route Management) Act 2002, which identify and target the major environmental and agricultural weeds found within their jurisdictions. Declaration of a weed imposes legal responsibilities on all landholders, local

governments and state government agencies to control the weed on lands under their management.

The Wet Tropics Conservation Strategy has prioritised environmental weeds likely to threaten World Heritage values. Weeds have been ranked according to their potential to invade, disrupt and transform a variety of Wet Tropics ecosystems. Some have already demonstrated their invasive potential in the region, whilst others are major weeds in other tropical areas which have the potential to spread here. This prioritising process has

identified 59 species and five plant groups as the focus for weed control programs within the bioregion and the Property (for more detail refer to the Wet Tropics Conservation Strategy [13]).

The Authority and QPWS are undertaking a Pond Apple Control Project with funds provided by the Natural Heritage Trust (NHT) Weeds o f National Significance program. The project has produced pond apple mapping for the Russell-Mulgrave and refined techniques for its eradication [25].

The Authority provided Mareeba and Eacham Shire Councils with weed spray units for use by World Heritage landowners and neighbours. The decision was made following the

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success of two units purchased previously for the Johnstone and Douglas Shires. The units assist landowners in preventing and controlling major outbreaks of weeds such as hymenachne, giant sensitive weed, giant bramble, sicklepod and Siam weed. These latest purchases join a range of ongoing initiatives under the Authority’s Good Neighbours program.

As a follow-up to the Weed Identification Pocket Guide [26], the Authority produced a series of weed control sheets to provide landowners with information about how to control weeds once they have identified them. The control sheets are available through

regional councils and other relevant organisations and are also available on the Authority and NRM&E websites [27]. The Authority’s contribution was again part of the Good Neighbours Program with funding assistance from NHT.

The Rainforest CRC is undertaking a program of research into the biology, ecology, and control of several major environmental weeds with the aim of improving our knowledge of the weeds, their effect on the environment, and the effect of weed control treatments on

these environments. The research is currently focussed on pond apple, harungana, hymenachne, Siam weed and tobacco weed.

A ltered fir e regimes

Most of the region’s non-rainforest ecosystems evolved under the influence of fire and rely on particular fire regimes for their persistence. A fire regime is a long-term pattern of fires, defined by their frequency and intensity and the season in which they occur [28], Post-European alterations to fire regimes are having an array of ecological impacts. However, determining an appropriate fire regime to protect World Heritage values is problematic because of: • the difficulties in determining pre-European fire regimes • the lack of scientific information on the effects of fire intensity, frequency and timing,

and

• the impact of introduced species altering fuel loads and burning characteristics.

The responsibility for fire management over the most of the Property lies with QPWS which is progressively drawing-up fire management plans for protected areas. The protection of ecological systems is one of the two main purposes for these fire

management plans, the other being the safeguarding of life and property. The Authority has provided input into plans for the Wet Tropics region. Draft fire management coordination arrangements have been developed involving the establishment of regional planning groups including Aboriginal representatives. Specific fire management plans and detailed monitoring programs are also a component of the Northern Bettong Recovery Plan process [29],

The Authority has supported QPWS in seeking NHT funds for research to support the development of fire management plans for northern bettong and mahogany glider habitat.

Forest dieback

The Authority’s ongoing vegetation mapping program [15] located numerous small patches of dead rainforest across parts of the Property. Several species of phytophthora, including Phytophthora cinnamorni, have been isolated from these dieback patches by researchers from the Rainforest CRC [30].

The extent of the threat of phytophthora to Australia’s native species and ecosystems is recognised in the 1996 National Strategy fo r the Conservation o f Australia’s Biodiversity

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where it is the only pathogenic taxon cited. The Commonwealth EPBC Act [31] also lists the disease caused by Phytophthora cinnamomi as a key threatening process subject to National Threat Abatement Plan (NTAP) [32],

The effects of P. cinnamomi on the region’s rainforests vary from no visible impact to the death of most plants following virulent outbreaks. The association of P. cinnamomi with patches of dead rainforest in the region is a major concern to the Authority.

Where virulent outbreaks occur the anticipated consequences include: • major disruptions to ecological community structure • local extinctions of populations of some plant species • massive reductions in primary productivity, and • loss or degradation of habitats for dependent plants and animals.

During 2003-2004, the Rainforest CRC was commissioned by the Authority to develop a Phytophthora cinnamomi dieback monitoring framework to monitor recovery of vegetation post die-back. The monitoring program will be scientifically robust and designed to include monitoring by QPWS ranger staff. It will be maintained on a long­

term basis. As part of this research program the researchers are assessing the level of risk o f forest dieback in mountaintops and highland areas within the World Heritage Area, specifically the mountaintops in the Bellenden Ker and Bartle Frere region.

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Social and Cultural Report Article 5(a) of the Convention Concerning the Protection o f the World Cultural and Natural Heritage requires management to ‘adopt a general policy which aims to give the cultural and natural heritage a function in the life of the community The Authority has developed a successful model for engaging the community in management of the World Heritage Area. Capacity building, (particularly value-adding through partnerships), visitor information and community education are part of this approach. Community

involvement in the management o f the Area is enhanced by a number of formal advisory committees and informal consultative groups which provide feedback and recommendations to the Authority’s Board.

Presentation Misty Mountains

The Misty Mountains walking trails network in the Tully and Palmerston sections of the Property was opened by the Honourable Warren Pitt MP and Senator the Honourable Ian Macdonald on 29 August 2003. This important tourism asset had been constmcted under a permit issued to the QPWS by the Authority. QPWS, in consultation with the Authority, also began construction of the Wet Tropics Great Walks project along the Herbert River Gorge located in the southern section of the Property. The work includes the reinstatement of old forestry tracks as walking tracks and the development of associated bush camping infrastructure. These projects are major initiatives in implementing the Authority’s Wet Tropics Walking Strategy.

Tour guide accreditation scheme

The Authority, in partnership with the tourism industry, finalised a tour guide accreditation scheme for tour guides operating in the World Heritage Area. The scheme includes three levels of accreditation, which aim to enhance the quality of the presentation of the Property by tour guides. The accreditation program will be introduced over three years, and will help ensure accuracy in presentation of the Area to visitors.

Wet Tropics visitor survey

The Wet Tropics visitor survey [33] was conducted by the Rainforest CRC for the Authority. Surveys were carried out at the following ten representative visitor sites: Mossman Gorge, Lake Barrine, the Crater, Barron Falls, Marrdja, Murray Falls, Henrietta Creek, Goldsborough Valley, Big Crystal Creek and Davies Creek. Some of the key

findings included:

Visitation • a decline in vehicle numbers across all sites in comparison to available 1998 traffic counter data, with the exception of the Crater • the heaviest visitation was at Mossman Gorge with 366, 415 visitors • the majority of visitors to the ten sites were independent travellers using private

vehicles (72.5%) • there were significantly more regional Australian (1014) than national Australian visitors (674) and significantly more overseas (863) visitors than domestic visitors at the ten sites, and • the most popular sites with domestic Australian visitors were Barron Falls and

Mossman Gorge.

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Reasons fo r visiting (domestic visitor motivation) • domestic visitors considered seeing natural features and scenery, recreational activities or pursuits or rest and relaxation as very important, and • learning about nature and culture were considered the least important reasons for

visiting for regional and domestic visitors.

Education, interpretation and awareness raising

The Authority produced a range of publications aimed at target markets of regional residents, visitors and schools. They included a new edition of Australia's Tropical Rainforests World Heritage Magazine. Two more editions of the popular Tropical Topics newsletter were published and are available by email subscription and the internet. New features continue to be added to the Authority’s website on an ongoing basis, with a growing educational section for teachers and students.

In August the Authority released a colourful brochure explaining how the World Heritage Area is managed and the Authority’s partnership approach. The brochure was in response to community attitude surveys undertaken during 2002-03, which showed many regional residents are confused about the roles and responsibilities of the different agencies involved in World Heritage management.

Wet Tropics Board Updates were published every three months following Wet Tropics Board meetings. The update is distributed to stakeholder groups, land management agencies and Members of Parliament. The newsletter gives a summary of items discussed at the Board meetings and achievements by the Authority.

The Authority continued to place a high priority on community communication through the regional media. Over 45 media launches and press releases were produced, resulting in extensive media exposure. Major media issues of 2003-2004 included the acquisition of endangered wetland ecosystems within the Woolanmarroo township announced jointly by the Minister for Environment and Heritage, the Honourable Dr David Kemp and the Queensland Minister the Honourable John Mickel; the holding of the biennial Australian World Heritage Managers’ Workshop in Cairns and the release of the draft Wet Tropics Conservation Strategy for public comment. As well as producing a range of general media releases for numerous commercial media outlets, the Authority also targeted government newsletters, tourism industry magazines and electronic bulletins. The result has been an increased profile for World Heritage issues and the Authority’s achievements.

An information leaflet to help combat the risk o f spread of Phytophthora cinnamomi in the World Heritage Area was printed and distributed to QPWS offices. Phytophthora is a micro-organism that has caused small patches of forest dieback in the Wet Tropics and the potential to spread to other areas. Hygiene measures that can be followed by recreational and commercial users of the World Heritage Area, as well as guidelines for

land managers and contractors are outlined in the brochure to help reduce the risk of spread.

Wildlife Posters

Ten Wet Tropics Wildlife Posters were produced and distributed in conjunction with The Cairns Post newspaper in July and August 2003. The posters were accompanied by quizzes, competitions and prizes for schoolchildren, and were widely collected by regional teachers and residents. The posters were also printed in The Townsville Bulletin newspaper in February and March of 2004. The Townsville posters were made possible by sponsorship by Queensland Nickel which paid for multiple copies of the posters to be

sent to regional schools. The Canberra Bulletin also featured one of the posters in its

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‘Rainforest’ schools publication in May and has expressed interest in reproducing additional posters in the future.

Website

The Wet Tropics website was launched in late 1999 and attracts more than 4000 sessions per month. The website includes resources for students and teachers, and includes a ‘things-to-do’ section, highlighting walks, places to visit and drives throughout the region. The section on walking opportunities in the Area has proved to be particularly popular and has received over 13,000 page views for the month of August 2004.

Visitor centres

The Authority has struggled to maintain its support of visitor information and interpretive centres throughout the World Heritage Area in 2003-2004 due to lack of funds. Since 2002, a training course about the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area has been run by the Authority. So far 170 volunteers have completed this course. More training sessions are planned for 2004-2005.

Community relations staff attended state and regional visitor centre conferences and also assisted TAPE by presenting World Heritage components of training courses for tour desk staff in Cairns. In 2001-2002 the Authority made a successful NHT bid for $50,000 to support a visitor centre focussing on rainforest rehabilitation on the Tablelands. The Trees for Evelyn and Atherton Tableland Visitor Centre was opened to the public in August 2003. The Authority also provided visitor centres with the new wildlife poster series. Long-term visitor centre volunteers were provided with a new T-shirt displaying the World Heritage Area brand in recognition for their hard work. A total of 100 shirts were distributed to centres throughout the region.

An update of the Wet Tropics website, including an extensive walking tracks database was distributed on CD to nine regional visitor centres which house free-to-access computers.

Staff worked with Malanda Visitor Centre, Ngadjon-jii Aboriginal Community, Eacham Council and QPWS to apply for funding for interpretation projects directly linked to the adjacent Malanda Conservation Park and developed new geological interpretive signs.

In association with Tourism Tropical North Queensland, the Authority developed A3 sized tear-off maps for regions of the Wet Tropics and helped develop a display at the new Gateway Visitor Centre on the Cairns Esplanade. In conjunction with the Cook Shire Council the Authority developed and installed directional signage to the Cooktown Visitor Centre ‘Nature’s Powerhouse.’

Daintree interpretive displays

Following extensive consultation with the local community, displays for the Daintree ferry crossing were finalised and printed, using funds put aside from the Daintree Rescue Program. The displays highlight the Daintree’s World Heritage features, introduce the local, resident community and provide useful visitor information.

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Aboriginal interests in land Approximately 80% of the Property is considered potentially claimable under the Native Title Act 1993 [34], Currently, 16 native title claims have been lodged with the National Native Title Tribunal over land in the World Heritage Area, though none have yet reached the final determination stage. Presently 282,966ha or 32% of the Property is under claim. Land formally under indigenous management presently totals 26,453ha. The Authority strongly believes that negotiated management agreements with native title interests is the preferred method of resolving competing land and resource use issues. The Authority is part of a Queensland Government’s negotiation team involved in the Eastern Yalangi Indigenous Land Use Agreement negotiations.

Partnerships with Rainforest Aboriginal People

The Authority works closely with and assists a range of Aboriginal organisations to engage in World Heritage management including: • representative organisations such as the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC)/Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Services (ATSIS), the

North Queensland, Cape York and Central Queensland Land Councils, and the Girringun Aboriginal Corporation • key tribal groups such as the Burawarra, Burungu Aboriginal Corporation, Djabugay Tribal Aboriginal Corporation, Kuku Yalanji, Ma:Mu Aboriginal Corporation, Mona

Mona community, Muluridji people, Ngadjon-Jii, Yarrabah and Wujal Wujal communities, Yidinji clans and the Yirrganydji Tribal Aboriginal Corporation, and • Aboriginal negotiating teams and reference groups such as the Interim Negotiating Forum’s Aboriginal Negotiating Team (ANT) and Interim Reference Group, and the

Ngadjon-Jii Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) team. The Authority seeks to ensure that Aboriginal negotiating teams are properly resourced and infonned to enter into meaningful negotiations with the Authority on various matters.

Interim Negotiating Forum (INF) and Wet Tropics Regional Agreement

The establishment of the INF was a key recommendation from the Ministerial Council commissioned report Which Way Our Cultural Survival? The Review o f Aboriginal Involvement in Management o f the World Heritage Area. The Authority has lead a Government Negotiating Team involving senior representatives from State and Australian agencies.

Amongst its activities the INF has: • contracted the INF independent facilitator, Mr Jim Petrich, to facilitate the INF process • organised the fifth INF meeting in Cairns in November, the sixth INF meeting in

Mission Beach in February, the seventh INF meeting in Gordonvale in March, the eight INF meeting in Helenvale in May and the final INF in Cairns in June • organised 14 workshops across the World Heritage region in conjunction with the Aboriginal Negotiating Team (ANT) to inform and gather feedback from

Rainforest Aboriginal people on progress with the Regional Agreement • supported the involvement of the Rainforest Aboriginal community in the INF process with financial assistance for the ANT secretariat, an Aboriginal Community Coordinator and information material through a contract with the

North Queensland Land Council (NQLC)

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• provided financial and in-kind assistance to the ANT to stage an INF Rainforest Aboriginal community regional workshop in April to progress key negotiation issues

• assisted the ANT and Interim Reference Group to develop the terms of reference and a proposal to establish the Aboriginal Rainforest Council (ARC) • established the INF Aboriginal cooperative management working group to review mechanisms for better Aboriginal involvement in management of the Wet Tropics

World Heritage Area and • established the INF policy, planning and permit-working group to review how to effectively involve Rainforest Aboriginal people in these processes through

defined protocols.

The INF process has resulted in a comprehensive Wet Tropics Regional Agreement between the 18 Rainforest Aboriginal tribal groups within the World Heritage Area, the Queensland and Australian Government land management agencies and the Authority. The Agreement will be referred to the Ministerial Council for endorsement. Key

outcomes include: • support for the establishment of the Aboriginal Rainforest Council (ARC), including its recognition as a statutory advisory committee to the Wet Tropics Board. It will also be recognised by land management agencies as the peak

organisation for land and cultural heritage matters in the World Heritage Area • support to seek listing of the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area for cultural values on the National Heritage List as a precursor to potential World Heritage nomination of cultural values • a second Aboriginal Director on the Wet Tropics Management Authority Board • the development of a number of protocols outlining how Rainforest Aboriginal

people are to be involved in the full range of management activities • support for improved training and employment opportunities for Rainforest Aboriginal people • support for long-term contracts for the Authority’s Community Liaison Officers

(CLO’s).

Community liaison

The Authority facilitates effective and appropriate communication, negotiation and consultation between government land management agencies, the Authority and the Rainforest Aboriginal community. Meaningful engagement is achieved by establishing relationships based on knowledge and respect of Aboriginal peoples’ responsibilities, traditional laws and customs, aspirations, rights and interests.

The Authority seeks to build cooperative partnerships with Rainforest Aboriginal people to facilitate their involvement in the management of the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area. This is primarily achieved through the Aboriginal Resource Management program with the assistance of Aboriginal Community Liaison Officers (CLOs) contracted through representative Aboriginal organisations.

The Authority contracted the Girringun Aboriginal Corporation and the North Queensland Land Council to provide three community liaison officers (CLOs) to work with the Authority and Rainforest Aboriginal people in the northern, central and southern regions of the World Heritage Area. Due to delays with the approval of the Authority’s annual budget, the southern region CLO contract commenced from 10 November. The northern

and central region CLO contracts operated for the full 12 months.

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Key objectives of the CLOs are to inform Rainforest Aboriginal people about the Authority’s role and processes, inform the Authority about Rainforest Aboriginal views, and raise community awareness of Rainforest Aboriginal people’s aspirations regarding management of the World Heritage Area. Over the year the Authority has: • provided assistance to the Aboriginal director of the Wet Tropics Board, Mr Percy

Neal

• consulted Rainforest Aboriginal groups regarding permitting, and management of roads under the Wet Tropics Management Plan 1998 • published the ninth edition of the Rainforest Aboriginal News newsletter and distributed 3,000 copies to Rainforest Aboriginal communities and representative

organisations, local councils, Queensland and Australian Government politicians, government agencies and interested individuals • updated the Authority’s Rainforest Aboriginal database to ensure the appropriate Aboriginal people were regularly informed of Authority projects • supported the involvement of Rainforest Aboriginal representatives on the

Community Consultative Committee, the Wet Tropics Landholders and Neighbours Group, Caims Hillslopes Fire Committee, Cassowary Advisory Group, Wangetti Recovery Group, and the Wet Tropics Conservation Strategy steering committee • consulted Rainforest Aboriginal groups regarding the development of the Wet Tropics

Conservation Strategy with workshops in the northern, central and southern regions • assisted the EPA’s consultation process for Rainforest Aboriginal people and Land Councils about the Wet Tropics state forest transfer process to convert state forests and timber reserves into national parks and other protected area tenures in the Wet

Tropics World Heritage Area and region • facilitated interaction between Rainforest Aboriginal representatives and Papuan representatives from Lorentz World Heritage Area as part of the AusAID project • helped organise the World Heritage Aboriginal Cooperative Management Workshop

in May including attendance by Rainforest Aboriginal representatives and Aboriginal representatives from other Australian World Heritage Areas; • facilitated Rainforest Aboriginal involvement in the Australian World Heritage Managers’ Workshop in May and • consulted key Rainforest Aboriginal groups and artists regarding the development of

the Authority’s publications and community relations products to ensure appropriate presentation of Rainforest Aboriginal cultural values and recognition of intellectual and cultural property rights.

Land and cultural heritage management

Development of appropriate management strategies for land and cultural heritage management continued to be a focus. The Authority • assisted Djabugay and Yirrganydji Traditional Owners’ involvement in the development and implementation of the Wangetti Recovery Plan and interpretation

opportunities • participated in the native title claim mediation processes, including those for Barron Gorge National Park (Djabugay), Gadgarra State Forest (Yidinji), Wooroonoran National Park (Ma:Mu, Ngadjon-jii and Yidinji), and Yarrabah (Gunggandji and

Mandingalbay Yidinji) to ensure inclusion of Authority interests with regard to land use, and • contributed to the ongoing development of the Aboriginal Natural and Cultural Management Plan component of the Wet Tropics Natural Resource Management plan

being prepared by the FNQ NRM Ltd and Rainforest CRC to ensure cultural heritage management issues are properly addressed regionally within the NHT Extension process.

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M anagem ent agreem ents with R ainforest A boriginal people

The Authority is required to have regard to the traditions of and work cooperatively with Aboriginal people with interests in the World Heritage Area. This includes negotiating management agreements, Indigenous Land Use Agreements and Memorandums of

Understanding (MOUs) with Rainforest Aboriginal people to reconcile native title rights and community development aspirations with the Authority’s statutory obligations to protect World Heritage values.

Discussions continued between the Authority, Djabugay Tribal Aboriginal Corporation, Department of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Policy (DATSIP), Koko Muluridji Corporation and the Mona Mona community regarding renegotiating the Mona Mona Wet Tropics Management Agreement. In cooperation with DATSIP, the Authority facilitated a community meeting in July to develop a process agreeable to all Mona Mona interests to set up a process to deal with governance, community development and renegotiation of the Agreement. The Wet Tropics Board conducted a field trip to the Mona Mona community in November for a briefing from the Mona Mona Management Committee regarding the community’s proposed community development under the National Aboriginal Health Strategy. The Authority has continued to have regular briefings with

the community’s management committee project managers regarding implementation of the proposal. Reticulated water infrastructure has been now installed.

Ngadjon-Jii Traditional Owners, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Authority continued implementation of the Ngadjon-Jii MOU. Implementation focused on Ngadjon- Jii peoples’ involvement in managing their traditional country in Wooroonoran National Park. The Authority assisted Ngadjon-Jii with the submission for Envirocare funding for interpretative signage for Ngadjon-Jii country.

Negotiations continued on the Burn (China Camp) management agreement with the Buruwarra, Burungu Aboriginal Corporation, the Cape York Land Council, and QPWS regarding the Burn community’s re-settlement planning, and exercise of native title rights and interests within the Area. Cooperative planning and implementation of on-ground

works for visitor management at the Yalanji significant cultural site, Kija (Roaring Meg Falls) were undertaken.

Eastern Kuku Yalanji Indigenous L an d Use A greem ent (ILUA)

The Authority continued to play a major role in the Eastern Kuku Yalanji ILUA negotiations aimed at resolving native title, land tenure and land use within and adjacent to the northern region of the World Heritage Area, including an assessment of the impact of ILUA proposals on management of the World Heritage Area. This has involved a major commitment of resources.

Role in the life of the regional community

Community attitudes

In order to understand and assess community attitudes, the Authority commissioned community surveys in 1992, 1993 and 1996. Neighbouring landholders were surveyed in 1999. From 2001-2003, the Authority expanded these studies to ensure community views were understood and considered in management of the Area. The regional community

survey was conducted through face-to-face interviews and mailouts in the Area between Townsville and Cooktown [33]. The survey findings suggest that community views have

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changed leading up to and following the controversy of the Area’s listing in 1988. The World Heritage status of the Wet Tropics is now well recognised and endorsed by the community. Some of the survey highlights included: • Regional support for the World Heritage Area is steading increasing with 78%

supporting the listing (Figure 2).

Figure 2. Support for World Heritage listing

Strongly oppose

Moderately oppose

Slightly oppose

Slightly support

Moderately support

Strongly support

Percentage of responses

• 93% of residents are aware that most of the rainforests in this region are part of a World Heritage Area. The community is very aware o f the existence of the World Heritage Area and strongly supports its protection (Figures 3 and 4). Residents view the Area as an integral part of their landscape, lifestyle and community

• The most important personal advantages related to general quality of life issues, rather than actual visits or economic benefits (Figure 5). 75% felt these benefits were considerably/very important • The most important community advantages related to environmental protection and

associated benefits of the Area (Figure 6). The most important benefits bestowed by the Property on the regional community as a whole were given as ‘providing clean water and air’ (92%), ‘protection of rainforest plants and animals’ (89%) and ‘protection of scenic landscapes’ (88%)

Figure 3. Importance of the World Heritage Area

Not important

Slightly important

Somewhat important

Moderately important

Considerably important

Very Important

Percentage of responses

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Figure 4. Why w ere the rainforests m ade a World Heritage Area

Indigenous/cultural

Business opportunities

Community well being

a j2 Aesthetic

o Q. <5 Political a. Preservation

natural/geological

Protection/conservation

0 10 20 30 40 50

Percentage of responses

• It is noteworthy that ‘introduced animals, plants and pests’ constitutes the most serious threats for the World Heritage Area for community residents (26.7%). Human activities both outside (26.1%) and within (25.9%) the Property are seen as posing the second and third most salient and serious threats to the Area

• Perceived disadvantages are declining (Figure 7). Less than 20% of people surveyed identified disadvantages to living near the Area. • The community is not satisfied about on-ground management. Feral pests and human activities are their greatest concern. The majority of residents felt consultation and

communication between management agencies and the community could be improved • Very few respondents believe World Heritage attributes are being fully protected or managed • 85% of respondents have visited the World Heritage Area, more than 65% visited

within the past six months, and 50% of the local community visit 1 to 4 times per year, and • Reasons for visiting the Property were diverse, but predominantly related to recreational activities (55.9%), or the seeking of a particular type of experience, either

personal or social (37.8%).

A brochure outlining the key findings of this important survey is currently being produced.

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Figure 5/P ersonal ad van tages

Direct economic opportunities

Indirect economic opportunities

Social opportunities

Recreational opportunities

Rest and relax

A quality living environment

Good to know it's there, that it exists

0 1 :

Not Important Important

Figure 6. Community a d v a n ta g es

Economic opportunities

Environmental aw areness and know ledge

u> < D < nc oQ. V) < u ttScenic landscape protectionPlant and animal protection G ear air and w ater

0 1 2

Not important

4 5 6

Important

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Figure 7. D isadvantages

ω E E o o

Community issues

Economic/employment issues

Environmental issues

Feral plants and animals, pests

Industry, agriculture issues

Infrastructure issues

Management issues

Fblitical issues

FRules, regulations, restrictions

B Personal disadvantages

B Community disadvantages

0 5 10 15 20 25 30

Percentage of response

Working with the tourism industry

The tourism industry not only contributes significantly to the local and regional economy, but also plays an important role in presenting the Property and explaining its World Heritage values to visitors.

Direct tourism use of the Property generated an estimated $179 million in 1993 (based on expenditure associated with commercial tours, hire cars and running costs for private vehicles), while total gross expenditure derived from visitation (which includes flow-on effects to the local economy) was estimated to be $753 million in 1993 [35]. Visitor

expenditure in the region is now estimated to exceed $2 billion annually [14] and tourism contributes up to 35-40% of jobs and income in the region [13].

Cooperative marketing of the World Heritage Area continued to gather momentum after the new World Heritage brand was launched in 2001. The Tourism Industry Liaison Group (TILG) continued to oversee implementation of World Heritage branding, with the

industry and the Authority working together to ensure widespread uptake of the brand on road signs, entrance signs, brochures and commercial products. Tour operators using the Area were provided with branded car stickers identifying them as World Heritage tour operators.

With the assistance of the Australian Government’s Regional Assistance Program, a range of products were developed and are currently being developed under the guidance of the group:

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• an updated version of the Daintree Tour Operator’s Handbook on CD • an image CD promoting accurate presentation of the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area • editorial content in regional tourism promotional magazines • rainforest education kits, and • community announcements on television and radio on the importance of the World

Heritage Area.

Daintree tour guides handbook on CD

In February, the Authority produced and distributed a new, improved edition of the Daintree Tour Guides Handbook. Due to funding constraints, the handbook was provided on CD rather than using first edition’s ring binder format. The CD files are easier to search for a key word or phrase and the files can be copied to a handheld computer.

Community Engagement Strategy

An interim Community Engagement Strategy was substantially completed and will be finalised early next year. Resources will be sought to enable a more comprehensive review of the Authority’s community engagement program next year.

Schools education

The Authority increased its focus on schools’ education with a range of initiatives targeting regional school children. The Authority became a platinum sponsor of the Newspapers in Education (NIE) weekly lift out in The Cairns Post and contributed regular columns, competitions and give-aways for young readers, resulting in regular

exposure in the local press. Staff have begun producing a series of rainforest activity sheets in conjunction with Paluma Environmental School. Ten fact sheets and accompanying activity sheets have been provided to schools and visitor centres, and another 20-30 sheets are planned for the future, depending upon available resources.

Neighbours Newsletter

The World Heritage Area has more than 200 freehold blocks and over 100 leases within its boundaries and more than 2,500 immediate neighbours. An edition of the Neighbours Newsletter was produced and mailed to these key stakeholders. It focused on weed control and included features on conservation covenants and fire management. A return of some 30% of the newsletter highlighted the difficulty of keeping the neighbours and landholders database up to date.

Cassowary Awards

The State Environment Minister, the Honourable Dean Wells MP, presented eight recipients with their Cassowary Awards at a ceremony in November 2003. The awards were held at the Rainforest Habitat Wildlife Sanctuary at Port Douglas, which co­ sponsored the event with Tourism Queensland and the Australian Government Department of Industry, Tourism and Resources. The Cassowary Awards recognise individuals and groups who have made an outstanding contribution towards the conservation of the World Heritage Area and is a major event in recognising the role of the community in World Heritage Area management. The 2003 recipients were:

Dr Joan Bentrupperbaumer (Science) For her significant contribution to our understanding of the human dimensions of the World Heritage Area through ground-breaking research.

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Mr Rupert Russell For his contribution as a naturalist, conservationist and park ranger to the conservation of the World Heritage Area.

Ms Ruth Berry (Arts) For presenting World Heritage values to the international community through film and illustration.

Ms Ruth Lipscombe (Conservation) For her passionate involvement with community conservation groups and personal commitment to reconciliation with Traditional Owners.

Mr Charles Morganson (Rainforest Aboriginal culture) For his outstanding contribution to the continuation of Rainforest Aboriginal culture in the World Heritage Area.

Mr George Skeene (Unsung Hero) For his commitment to preserving Yirrgandji culture and sharing his knowledge with the wider community.

Mr Russell Boswell (Nature Based Tourism) For his tireless commitment to encouraging sustainable tourism in the World Heritage Area.

Ms Janeene Wallwork (Neighbour ) For conservation initiatives on her property and leading by example as a World Heritage neighbour.

Statutory committees

Community Consultative Committee (CCC)

The CCC is a statutory committee under section 40(3) of the Wet Tropics World Heritage Protection and Management Act 1993. It consists of approximately 20 representatives chosen from a broad cross-section of the Wet Tropics community. There were four meetings held during 2003-2004. The last CCC meeting for this term of office was held

on 21 May 2004. A new committee of 22 members was nominated and accepted by the WTMA Board on 8 June 2004, for the next three-year term. Significant issues that the CCC provided advice on included:

• draft Wet Tropics Consen>ation Strategy • proposed Wet Tropics fish stocking policy and grazing policy • proposed Kuranda Range Road upgrade and • proposed Kareeya-Innisfail transmission line replacement.

Scientific Advisory Committee

The SAC is a statutory committee under section 40(3) of the Wet Tropics World Heritage Protection and Management Act 1993. The SAC advises the Board on scientific matters. A new SAC was appointed in May 2004. Under S.40 (2) of the Wet Tropics World Heritage Protection and Management Act 1993 the Scientific Advisory Committee ‘has the function of

advising the Authority on scientific research that will contribute to the protection and conservation of the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area and scientific developments relevant to the protection or conservation of the area.’. The SAC held a workshop in May 2004 and have resolved to provide more strategic advice to the Board); identify current and emerging

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scientific, conservation, cultural, socio-economic and political issues of relevance to World Heritage management, and identify projects SAC would be prepared to champion and deliver during the life of the committee.

Liaison groups

As well as the statutory advisory groups (CCC and SAC), the Authority supports three stakeholder liaison groups, the Conservation Sector Liaison Group (CSLG), Tourism Industry Liaison Group (TILG) and the Landholders and Neighbours Liaison Group (LNLG). These groups provide valuable, two-way communication between the Authority and stakeholders and the outcomes of these meetings are presented to the Board.

Remuneration Members of the liaison groups do not receive sitting fees. The liaison groups cost in total $7,303.28 mostly for reimbursed travel expenses.

Conservation Sector Liaison Group

The Conservation Sector Liaison Group (CSLG) members represent the major conservation groups in the Area and provide valuable feedback on conservation concerns regarding World Heritage management. All meetings were held in Cairns. The group has continued to provide feedback on policy and permitting issues, raise concerns over various activities in the Area and has provided input and advice into the preparation of the Authority’s Conservation Strategy.

Chairperson Mr Peter Valentine (James Cook University);

Members Mr John Beasley (Kuranda Envirocare), Mr Chris Bennett (Daintree Task Force), Mr John Rainbird and Ms Nicky Hungerford (Cairns and Far North Environment Centre), Ms Brenda Harvey (Community fo r Coastal and Cassowary Conservation), Mr David Hudson (Conservation Volunteers Australia), Mr Tony Irvine (Trees fo r the Evelyn and Atherton Tablelands), Ms Margaret Moorhouse (Alliance fo r Sustainable Hinchinbrook),

Mr Allen Sheather (Daintree Rainforest Foundation) Mr Peter Smith ( Wildlife Preservation Society o f Queensland) and Mr Jack Grant (Tree Kangaroo and Mammal Group),

Meetings and dates 17 November 2003, 23 February 2004, 24 May 2004 (all meetings held in Cairns).

The Tourism Industry Liaison Group

The Tourism Industry Liaison Group (TILG) consists o f a number of tourism operators in the Area and senior tourism industry representatives. Key issues discussed by the group included implementation of the new brand for the World Heritage Area and finalisation of a tour guide accreditation program for operations using the Area.

Chairperson Lieutenant General John Grey AC (Retired) WTMA Chair

Members Mr Bill Bayne (Atherton Tableland Promotion Bureau), Mr Bill Calderwood (Tourism Tropical North Queensland), Mr Terry Carmichael (Queensland Wildlife Parks

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Association/Rainforest Habitat), Mr John Courtenay (Pacific Asia Travel Association), Mr Ron Cusick (Raft and Rainforest Pty Ltd), Mr Mark Evans (Paronella Park), Mr Daniel Gschwind (Queensland Tourism Industry Corporation), Mr Gordon Dixon (Downunder Tours), Ms Angela Freeman (Far North Queensland Tourism Operators Association), Mr John White (Wait-a-While Tours), Mr Terry Rogers and Mr Geoff

Trewin (Port Douglas Daintree Tourism Association), Mr Tony Charters (Tourism Queensland), Ms Sue Korecki (Skyrail), and Ms Glenys Schuntner (Townsville Enterprise Ltd).

Meetings and dates 18 November 2003, 24 February 2004, 25 May 2004, (all meetings were held in Caims).

The Land Holders and Neighbours Liaison Group (LNLG)

A new Landholders and Neighbours Liaison Group was approved by the Board in 2002. LNLG has ten members representative of a broad geographic spread across the region. This group has played a significant role in the Authority’s Good Neighbours Program and the membership reflects the diversity of regional land use from fruit growers to cane growers, organic farmers and tourism operators. The most significant issues continue to be the management of weeds and feral pigs. Due to budget constraints the group only met twice during the 2003-2004 year, first in Malanda and later in Caims. The Authority and LNLG members are currently reviewing the group’s role to determine if they can be more effective as a fomm for exchanging information.

The Authority helped neighbours located outside the Property to protect their poultry from the endangered Spotted-tailed Quoll by providing free wire netting. Quolls have a bad reputation as poultry killers, making them unpopular with some mral residents. The netting was made available through the Tree Kangaroo and Mammal Group as part of the Good Neighbours Program with funding assistance from NHT. conservation initiatives.

Chairperson Cr Anne Portess (WTMA Board Director)

Members

Ms Dawn Brown (Ingham), Mr Marcus Bulstrode (Mena Creek), Mr Maurice Franklin (Mission Beach), Ms Alison Gotts (Cape Tribulation), Mr John Nicholas (Cow Bay), Mr Ross Rogers (Malanda), Ms Eileen Schoorl (Atherton), Mr Norman Whitney (East Trinity), Mr Trevor Wood (Townsville/Paluma) and Ms Linda Venn (Paluma/

Meetings and dates The committee met on 22 November 2003 (Malanda) and 6 May 2004 (Caims).

Volunteers

A network of Wet Tropics volunteers has been set up throughout the region with coordination provided by local QPWS officers. Volunteer activities are diverse and include bird counts, revegetation, cleanups, walking track maintenance, interpretative activities and displays, children's activities, production of newsletters and leaflets, helping customers at information counters and public education. QPWS provides the volunteers with year-round training in guiding walks, wildlife handling and care, front counter skills and first aid.

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Other community groups assist in the management and maintenance of the Property through initiatives such as community reforestation projects.

Cassowary Advisory Group

The Cassowary Advisory Group (CAG) advises the Authority on a range of cassowary conservation issues. Membership includes key community groups, wildlife parks, local authorities and government departments. NHT funding of $27,272.73 was received for community engagement in cassowary conservation from March 2004 to June 2005. This year the following key initiatives were undertaken: • a re-print of the successful ‘take care’ cassowary stickers • a cassowary handling course for QPWS rangers was run at the end of May 2004.

CAG requested training to be extended to volunteers in the future • three Cassowary Coastcare signs installed in August at Mission Beach, Cairns and Daintree • eight Cassowary Country signs installed throughout the Wet Tropics region at

Paluma, Kuranda and Julatten • recommended cassowary habitat mapping has been included in the Wet Tropics Vegetation Management Plan under the QPWS Cassowary Recovery Plan Review • publication of articles in international and national magazines to raise cassowary

awareness • Hartley’s Creek Crocodile Adventures and Mission Beach successfully rehabilitated and released eight cassowaries • a large education program using CAG education materials and publications led by

QPWS staff at Mission Beach and Daintree successful in reducing cassowary human interactions • CAG members supported numerous NHT, Bushcare and other funding applications • CAG working with wildlife park industry and scientific researchers to implement

appropriate research programs, and • CAG jointly funded development of wildlife corridor projects in Kuranda and Julatten.

Private sector partnerships

Visitor information kiosks The Authority and Caims-based tourism firm ITNet have joined forces and have installed a touch-screen visitor information kiosk in the Rainforest Habitat Wildlife Sanctuary at Port Douglas. The unit provides visitors with information on the World Heritage Area together with information about tours, attractions, restaurants and accommodation, along with images, film clips and digital maps. The Authority also provided extensive

information and images of World Heritage visitor sites and a database of over 100 walking tracks. The kiosks were replicated at a number of different locations throughout the region in 2003-2004, including the upgraded Cairns Esplanade, providing an important information service for visitors and advancing presentation of the World Heritage Area.

Rainforest Dome collaboration The Rainforest Dome is a rooftop wildlife experience on top of the Cairns Casino that opened in central Cairns in December 2003. Community Relations staff worked with

Rainforest Dome to produce rainforest educational material including displays and multi­ media presentations. Staff provided technical expertise and images for the project, with a

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focus on information about how rainforest works, its plant and animal life forms and messages on appropriate behaviour when visiting the rainforest. The Authority contributed to the making of a video about the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area and rainforest plants and animals in conjunction with the Rainforest Dome. The video is run daily as an interactive tool used by guides for tour groups.

Australian Tropical Forest Institute Work has proceeded on creating a new Australian Tropical Forest Institute (ATFI) based upon the Rainforest CRC. The initiating partners of James Cook University (JCU), Rainforest CRC, the Authority and Bioprospect Ltd received a Queensland Smart State

loan of $7.8 million towards the project. The institute will be located at the Caims campus of James Cook University. An interim Board was established to oversee the design and construction of the ATFI building.

The Authority has continued to play a lead role as a keen supporter of ATFI and attended meetings of the ATFI interim Board over the year. The business plan for ATFI has been reviewed, with extensive liaison occurring with the Rainforest CRC Board of Directors.

At the end of April 2004, the Rainforest CRC was advised that their bid for a further term of funding for the proposed Rainforest Futures CRC was unsuccessful. Two other Queensland CRCs critical for natural resource management and planning - Coastal and Reef - suffered a similar fate. The CRC Committee reporting to the Minister for Science, the Honourable Peter McGauran, considered that their application was not as competitive as other bids for funding. The Rainforest CRC will have an opportunity to apply for further funding again in 2006. The government announcement that the Rainforest CRC bid was unsuccessful has lead to some uncertainties in planning the future development for ATFI.

Private sector partnerships report A working group was established by the Authority under the auspices of the Wet Tropics Ministerial Council to look at opportunities to further develop private sector partnerships in the Area. The group met four times over the year and finished a report to Ministerial Council identifying a number of potential opportunities for private sector partnerships.

National and International collaborations

World H eritage M anagers ’ Conference

The Authority, in conjunction with the Australian Government Department of Environment and Heritage, coordinated the biennial World Heritage Managers’ Workshop that was held in Caims in May 2004. Over 70 delegates met in the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area over three days to discuss the new National Heritage legislation,

indigenous involvement in cooperative management of World Heritage Areas, private sector partnerships and funding for World Heritage. Participants from Australia’s 15 World Heritage sites attended field trips which showcased the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area and shared experiences in World Heritage management.

Lorentz W orld H eritage Area

Lorentz World Heritage Area is the largest protected area in Southeast Asia at 2.5 million hectares. Lorentz and the Wet Tropics share a common ancestry and many related plants and animals.

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As part of a project funded by AusAid and commissioned by the Department of Environment and Heritage (DEH), the Authority hosted 12 representatives from Lorentz in April 2004. Staff from the Authority, Rainforest CRC and ATFI spent three weeks training delegates in planning and management techniques. One of the outcomes of the training exercise was the establishment of a taskforce and preparation of a work plan to deliver the next stage of the project that involves the preparation of a strategic framework to guide the development of a management plan for the Lorentz World Heritage Area. The taskforce is made up of community and local government representatives from Papua, the Indonesian Government and three advisors from the Authority and ATFI. The Authority and ATFI advisors visited Papua in June 2004 to deliver the last phase of the AusAid project. A draft Lorentz Strategic Plan is due for finalisation in September 2004.

Following the completion of the AusAid funded project it is anticipated that a formal ‘twinning’ relationship will be established via an MOU between managers for the two World Heritage areas. Such a relationship should foster long-term opportunities for management support and exchange of expertise and ideas.

Workshop on cluster and trans-border W orld H eritage nominations The Authority was invited by UNESCO to participate in a workshop on cluster and transborder World Heritage nominations in Kuching, Malaysia. The Manager, Planning and Research made a presentation on the Authority’s experiences in planning and management of a multi-tenured World Heritage Area. He also made a presentation on the Asia-Pacific Focal Point on behalf of the Department of Environment and Heritage.

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Human and Financial Resources Financial management The Authority’s general-purpose financial statements for 2003-2004 were incorporated in the overall EPA general-purpose financial statements. Total funding of $5,417 million for 2003-2004 was provided to the Authority principally by the Australian and Queensland governments and supplemented by other forms of income. Included as part of total funds,

$542,000 from the Australian Government was carried forward from the previous financial year.

A summary of the Authority’s budget for 2003-2004 is provided in Appendix I.

The Authority’s budget was not approved until January 2004 following protracted discussions with the Australian and State governments. The Australian government’s base allocation to the Authority was $2.2 million, plus an additional $500,000 provided for specific activities and projects. The Queensland Government contributed $1,834,000. Of this, $1,826,000 was required to be returned to QPWS for operation management under a Service Agreement. The late approval of the Authority’s budget, together with uncertainty on funding levels, caused significant operational difficulties and hampered the

efficient use o f funds. Four staff positions were unfunded under the final budget allocation and the Authority consequently finished the year $29,000 over-expended on the base line budget, despite undertaking extensive cost saving measures.

Funds were distributed among Corporate Services, Aboriginal Resource Management, Planning and Research, Area Conservation, Community Relations and Daintree Rescue programs within the Authority.

No audits or Freedom of Information requests (FOI’s) was conducted in 2003-2004.

Rainforest CRC

The Authority is one of several partners in a seven-year funding agreement with the Rainforest Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) to provide scientific research. In 2003­ 2004, $147,387.50 was paid to the Rainforest CRC for priority research projects. The projects the Authority funded included rainforest dieback research, valued at $16,500 and the remainder was for AusAid funding to assist the CRC with delivery of the Lorentz National Park Project.

In the first five years of the contract with the Rainforest CRC, aggregate payments by the Authority have exceeded the commitment of $ 150,000 per year. However, over the past two years the Authority has only had $232,087.50 of its own funding to purchase research

support.

Human resources

Staffing

The lack of resources to commission tactical research support is a growing concern for the Authority.

The approved staff establishment of the Authority as at 30 June 2004 totalled 28 permanent positions, four of which were vacant, with one occupied by a temporary

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employee. One permanent position was transferred to Corporate Solutions Queensland as part of the Shared Services Initiative. Four positions were unfunded over the year.

During the year staff resources were supplemented by temporary contract staff. This included support for the Aboriginal Resources Management program to progress the Interim Negotiating Forum, and contracting the Australian Tropical Forest Institute to progress the Caims Training exercise for the AusAid funded Lorentz project. Within the Area Conservation program, major consultancies included legal assistance and expert witness reports for the Woolanmaroo compensation claim. Staffing details, along with a comparison to the previous financial year, are shown in Table 1.

Table 1. Staffing details and contracts by category and program.

E x p e n d i t u r e $

2 0 0 3 /0 4 2 0 0 2 /0 3

C o n s u lta n c ie s b y C a te g o r y *

C o m m u n ic a tio n s 1 0 2 ,8 6 3 3 1 ,1 0 0

S c ie n tific /T e c h n ic a l 5 0 .0 0 0 5 ,8 1 8

M a n a g e m e n t 0 0

T O T A L 1 5 2 ,8 6 3 3 6 ,9 1 8

C o n t r a c t S ta f f b y P r o g r a m *

A re a C o n s e rv a tio n 1 1 0 ,1 4 0 1,444

P la n n in g & R e se a rc h 1 0 5 ,1 7 7 2 1 2,001

C o m m u n ity R e la tio n s 12,9 3 5 20,9 9 1

C o rp o ra te S e rv ic e s 6 4 ,2 5 5 1 ,9 0 6

A b o rig in a l R e so u rc e M a n a g e m e n t 3 0 9 ,8 6 7 2 4 4 ,1 9 1

D a in tre e R e sc u e 6 6 0 0

T O T A L 6 0 3 ,0 3 4 4 8 0 ,5 3 3

* Excludes the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Services expenditure on direct funded projects.

At 30 June 2004, the Authority employed one Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (ATSI) staff member on a temporary basis, equivalent to about 3.85% of the total positions. Throughout the year, the Authority engaged the services of three Aboriginal Community Liaison Officers through contracts with representative Aboriginal organisations. At 30 June 2004, the Authority engaged three Aboriginal community liaison officers.

Training and development

The Authority participates as a member of the regional training and human resource network. Expenditure for staff training, development and attendance at conference and seminars was $5,342.70 in 2003-2004. There were 60 attendances to various ecotourism, scientific, environmental law, GIS & World Heritage focussed conferences, seminars and workshops, several of which were locally run at no cost. Several public courses were attended by staff to fulfil their training requirements. In-house training was provided to

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Authority staff on purchasing, safety and administrative procedures as well as the orientation of new staff.

Research Sem inar Series

Monthly seminars on emerging research results of interest to World Heritage land managers were presented at the Authority’s conference room. Seminar topics this year have included:

Max Chappell (WTMA) Planning, Papua and Partnerships: Lorentz and World Heritage Twinning

Campbell Clarke (WTMA) The Conservation Strategy- why does it matter?

Nigel Weston and Libby Larson (Rainforest CRC) The Wet Tropics NRMPlan and the Aboriginal Cultural and Natural Resource Management Plan (formerly the Bama Plan): A briefing fo r land managers

Prof. Roger Leakey (JCU) An introduction to Agroforestry and the domestication o f bush tucker

Robyn Smith (QPWS) Wet Tropics Forest Transfers

Helen McLaughlin and Luke Croton (DNRM&E) Wet Tropics Vegetation Management

Overseas travel

The Executive Director represented the Australian Committee for the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources at a meeting of the Oceania Regional Council (ORC) of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) in New Zealand. All expenses except salary were paid direct by IUCN. The Manager, Planning & Research, was nominated by the Australian Government as the Australian delegate to participate in a seminar and workshop on cluster and trans-border natural World Heritage nominations in the Association of South East Asian Nations region held in Kuching, Malaysia. All expenses except salary were paid by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, & Cultural Organisation (UNESCO). The Manager, Planning & Research, also travelled to West Papua to progress the Indonesian Government Sectors Linkages Program: Enhancement of Local Government

Planning & Management Capacity at Lorentz National Park World Heritage Property, Papua. AusAid paid all expenses except salary.

Workplace health and safety

The Authority participates on a regional committee for workplace health and safety issues. No significant issues have been revealed by the monthly workplace health and safety audits of the workplace. One minor workplace incident was recorded during the year with no time lost. One staff member completed a 4WD course, two staff completed first aid certification and the Workplace Health & Safety Officer attended a workshop on Workplace Assessment Criteria.

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E qual employment opportunity

The Authority and the EPA northern region participate in a joint Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) network committee. All selection recommendations are monitored and reviewed to ensure compliance with the recruitment and selection standard. All appointments complied with the standard and the Authority received no EEO complaints.

On 30 June 2004 the Authority had 14 females and 12 males on staff with two positions vacant. Profiles on gender are shown in Table 2.

Table 2. Employment by gender and occupational stream, June 2004

Stream Female(%)Male(%)

Administration and Senior Executive 12(46.15) 8 (30.77) Service Professional 2 (7.69) 3 (11.54)

Technical 1 (3.85)

Operational

Total 14(53.85) 12 (46.15)

Employment by gender and salary level, June 2004

Salary Range Female(%) Male(%)

$78,452 + 1 (3.85)

$74,180-$$78,451 1 (3.85) 1 (3.85)

$66,950-$71,787 3 (11.54)

$59,421 -$64,015 1 (3.85) 3(11.54)

$50,645 - $56,676 5 (19.23) 3 (11.54)

$44,404 - $49,481 2 (7.69)

$38,012 - $43,553 5 (19.23) 1 (3.85)

$28,651 -$36,666

Total 14 (53.85) 12(46.15)

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References for Annual Report [1] List of signatories to the World Heritage Convention: http://whc.unesco.org/pg.cfm?cid=157

[2] Australian sites on the World Heritage list: http://www.deh.gov.au/heritage/worldheritage/index.html

[3] DASETT (1987). Nomination o f the Wet Tropical Rainforests o f North-east Australia by the Government o f Australia for Inclusion in the World Heritage List. Department of Arts, Sport, the Environment, Tourism and Territories. Canberra. December 1987.

[4] Wet Tropics World Heritage Protection and Management Act 1993: http://www.legislation.qld.gov.aU/LEGISLTN/CURRENT/W/WetTropicsA93_03B.pdf

[5] Wet Tropics of Queensland World Heritage Area Conservation Act 1994: http://scaleplus.law.gov.aU/htmLpasteact/2/l 151/top.htm

[6] WTMA (1999). Measuring Changes in the State of the Wet Tropics of Queensland World Heritage Area I. The development o f a set of core indicators for measuring changes in natural values. Wet Tropics Management Authority, Cairns.

[7] Sattler, P.S. & Williams, R.D. (1999). The Conservation Status o f Queensland’s Bioregional Ecosystems. Environmental Protection Agency, Brisbane.

[8] Thackway, R. & Cresswell, I.D. (eds) (1995). An Interim Biogeographic Regionalisation for Australia: a framework for establishing the national system reserves, version 4.0. Australian Nature Conservation Agency, Canberra.

[9] IUCN (1988). World Heritage Nomination — IUCN Technical Evaluation o f486 Wet Tropical Rainforests o f North-east Australia. Report to the World Heritage Bureau, Paris meeting. June 13-17.

[10] WTMA (2002). Periodic Report on the Application of the World Heritage Convention. Section II. State of Conservation o f Specific World Heritage Properties. Wet Tropics of Queensland. Attachment 1: Update of Original Nomination Dossier. Wet Tropics Management Authority, Cairns.

[11] Wet Tropics Management Plan 1998: http://www.legislation.qld.gov.au/LEGISLTN/SLS/1998/98SL161.pdf

[12] Activities regulated by the Wet Tropics Management Plan 1998: http://www.wettropics.gov.au/mlr/laws_protecting.htm

[13] WTMA (2004). Wet Tropics Conservation Strategy. Wet Tropics Management Authority, Cairns.

[14] Rainforest CRC & FNQ NRM Ltd (in prep.), Sustaining the Wet Tropics - a regional strategy for integrated natural resource management, Rainforest CRC and FNQ NRM Ltd, Caims.

[15] Stanton, J.P.& Stanton, D. (1997-2004). Vegetation of the Wet Tropics Bioregion (37 maps at 1:50,000 scale + key and descriptive reports). WTMA, Caims.

[16] Walsh, K., Hennessy, K., Jones, R., Pittock, B., Rotstayn, L., Suppiah, R. & Whetton, P. (2000). Climate Change in Queensland Under Enhanced Greenhouse Conditions. Second Annual Report. CSIRO Atmospheric Research, Melbourne.

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[17] Hilbert, D.W., Ostendorf, B. & Hopkins, M. (2001). Sensitivity of tropical forests to climate change in the humid tropics of North Queensland. Austral Ecology 26: 590-603.

[18] Roads in the Wet Tropics: Planning, Design, Construction, Maintenance and Operation Best Practice Manual.

[19] The Queensland Electricity Supply Industry Environmental Code of Practice in the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area (QESI Code).

[20] NRA (1999). Codes of Practice for Water Extraction in the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area. Natural Resource Assessments, Caims.

[21] Moore, L.A. & Moore, NJ. (1999). Cassowary Conservation Roads: A cassowary management strategy and road upgrade assessment for El Aris h and Tully-Mission Beach Roads, Mission Beach. Report to Department of Main Roads, Cairns.

[22] Harrison, D.A. & Congdon, B.C. (2001). Wet Tropics Vertebrate Pest Risk Assessment Scheme. Rainforest CRC & School of Tropical Biology, James Cook University, Caims

[23] Burrows, D. (2002). Fish Stocking and the Distribution and Potential Impact of Translocated Fishes in Streams o f the Wet Tropics Region, Northern Queensland. Report to the Wet Tropics Management Authority ACTFR Report No. 02/04.

[24] Werren, G. (2001). Environmental Weeds of the Wet Tropics Bioregion: Risk Assessment and Priority Ranking. Rainforest CRC, Caims.

[25] Wet Tropics Management Authority (2004) Adaptive management: Pond apple control in the catchments o f the Russell-Mulgrave and Tully-Murray River Systems. A report to the Australian Government Department o f the Environment and Heritage. WTMA, Caims.

[26] Wet Tropics Management Authority (2001). Weed Pocket Guide. Agricultural and Environmental Weeds o f Far North Queensland. Department of Natural Resources and Mines, Queensland Government.

[27] The Wet Tropics Management Authority website: http://www.wettropics.gov.au

[28] Harrington, G.N. & Sanderson, K.D. (1993). Vegetation Changes at the Rainforest/Wet Sclerophyll Boundary in the Wet Tropics of North Queensland 1940s - 1990s. Report to the Wet Tropics Management Authority, Caims.

[29] Recovery plan for the northern bettong (Bettongia tropica) 2000 - 2004: http://www.ea.gov.au/biodiversity/threatened/recovery/northem-bettong/index.html

[30] Gadek, P., Gillieson, D., Edwards, W,, Landsberg, J. & Price, J. (2001). Rainforest Dieback Mapping and Assessment in the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area. James Cook University & Rainforest CRC, Cairns.

[31 ] Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999: Listed Key Threatening Processes: http://www.deh.gov.au/cgi- bin/sprat/public/publicgetkevthreats.pl

[32] Threat Abatement Plan for Dieback Caused by the Root-rot Fungus Phytophthora cinnamomi: http://www.deh.gov.au/biodiversitv/threatened/tap/phvtophthora/index.html

[33] Bentrupperbaumer, J.M. & Reser, J.P. (2003). The Role of the Wet Tropics in the Life of the Community: A Wet Tropics World Heritage Area Survey. Rainforest CRC. Caims.

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[34] Native Title (Qld) Act 1993: http://www.legislation.qld.gov.aU/LEGISLTN/CURRENT/N/NativeTitleQA93 _01_.pdf

[35] Driml, S. (1997) Towards Sustainable Tourism in the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area. Report to the Wet Tropics Management Authority, Cairns.

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Appendix I

Operational Statement

WET TROPICS MANAGEMENT AUTHORITY OPERATING STATEMENT

Controlled Revenue and Expenses 2003-04 2002-03

REVENUE ·* ' ...... .. $'000 $'000

Revenue from Government Payments for Outputs 2,315 2,903

Asset Assumed/Liabilities transferred 0 0

Sub-total Government Revenue 2,315 2,903

Own Source Revenue

User Charges 18 10

Grants and Other Contributions 3,052 3,235

Taxes fees and fines 0 0

Gain on disposal of fixed assets 0 0

Other Revenue 32 7

Interest 0 0

Sub-total Own Source Revenue 3,102 3,252

TOTAL REVENUE 5,417 6,155

EXPENSES $'000 $'000

Operating Expenses Program

Corporate Services 885 907

Aboriginal Resource Management 606 507

Area Conservation 2,551 2,525

Planning & Research 926 879

Community Relations 350 579

Daintree R escue Package 166 162

Sub-total Operating Expenses 5,484 5,559

Non-Operating Expenses Depreciation 41 148

Equity Return 8 145

Asset Writedowns/Loss on disposal 0 26

Sub-total Non-Operating Expenses 49 319

TOTAL EXPENSES 5,533 5,878

OPERATING RESULT -116 277

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Appendix 2

State and Condition Report Summary of key issues and findings A thorough assessment of the overall health of the Property requires improved data and information concerning past and present conditions, specifically the historical ranges and rates of change of ecosystem variables. Information which characterises ecosystem composition, structure, and function through time, including the frequency, intensity, duration, and spatial patterns of disturbance at multiple scales is fundamental. Ecological variables which serve as appropriate indicators of ecosystem condition are also needed. A reference database that describes acceptable (normal) and pathological (abnormal) ranges

also needs to be developed.

Notwithstanding the above caveat it is concluded that the condition of the Property has been at least maintained since listing and that a wide range of management activities (see accompanying Governance Report, Environment Report and Social & Cultural Report) have been implemented which should achieve a progressive enhancement of condition in the longer-term.

Natural processes are being relied on to gradually reinstate ecosystem composition, structure and function in previously logged forests. The extent of clearing has been significantly reduced as has the amount of internal habitat fragmentation within the Property. Systematic fire planning and management of the open forests and woodlands of the Property is progressing on a more rigorous and scientific basis than at listing, but more needs to be learnt and applied. Rare and threatened species are afforded a higher

level of protection than at listing and there has been a very significant increase in higher- order protection land tenures which are unencumbered by leases. On the negative side, invasive pest species including diseases, plants and animals are more prevalent now than at listing.

Climate change and the apparent occurrence of more extreme weather events is a major emerging threat to the condition of the Property. There is a need for greater research support to address predicted climate change impacts. The property also faces a range of pressures associated with population growth and urban expansion surrounding the Property. Research is needed to identify means to build ecosystem resilience to these pressures

World Heritage Listing The Wet Tropics of Queensland World Heritage Area is an area of outstanding natural values, meeting all four natural criteria for World Heritage listing and fulfilling the necessary conditions of integrity. The criteria current at the time of listing (December

1988) and specified in the nomination [1] were:

1. Outstanding examples representing the major stages of the earth’s evolutionary history

2. Outstanding examples representing significant ongoing geological processes, biological evolution and man’s interaction with his natural environment

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3. Superlative natural phenomena, formations or features or areas o f exceptional natural beauty

4. The most important and significant natural habitats where threatened species of plants and animals of outstanding universal value from the point of view of science and conservation still survive.

The Wet Tropics contains one of the most complete and diverse living records of the major stages in the evolution of plants, from the very first land plants to the ferns (pteridophytes), cycads and conifers (gymnosperms) and flowering plants (angiosperms). The Property contains most of the earth’s remaining relicts of the forests which were once part of the super-continent Gondwana. The rainforests which constitute about 80% of the Property have more taxa with primitive characteristics than any other area on earth. These ancient taxa represent the relicts of long evolutionary lineages resulting in the Property preserving a far greater degree of evolutionary/genetic heritage than places with similar or

greater numbers of closely related species.

The Property provides an unparalleled living record o f the ecological and evolutionary processes that shaped the flora and fauna o f Australia over the past 415 million years when first it was part of the Pangaean landmass, then the ancient continent Gondwana, and for the past 50 million years an island continent. During these 415 million years of evolution, the processes of speciation, extinction and adaptation have been determined by a history of continental drift and cycles of climatic change. The Property also contains a unique record of a mixing of two continental floras and faunas. Following the collision of the Australian and Asian continental plates about 15 million years ago, the mixing of two evolutionary streams of both flora and fauna, (in some cases of common origin, that had been largely separated for at least 80 million years), occurred. As a centre of endemism, the Wet Tropics provides fundamental insights into evolutionary patterns both in isolation from, and in interaction with, other rainforests.

The Riversleigh fossil deposits (Australian Fossil Mammal Sites (Riversleigh/Naracoorte) World Heritage Area) are rich in marsupial fossil taxa closely related to those still living in the rainforests of the Wet Tropics which represent the best surviving equivalent o f the Oligo-Miocene rainforests of Riversleigh. The Wet Tropics contains one of the most important living records of the evolutionary history o f marsupials and songbirds with the ancestors of all of Australia’s unique marsupials and most of its other animals originating in rainforest ecosystems.

Within the boundaries of the Property are some superlative scenic features highlighted by extensive sweeping forest vistas, wild rivers, waterfalls, rugged gorges and coastal scenery. The Property also provides a terrestrial continuum with the Great Barrier Reef.

The Wet Tropics has affinities from a topographical and climatic basis with upland tropical forest localities in the upper reaches of the Amazon and Congo basins and in the uplands of the east coast of Madagascar, Brazil and New Guinea [2], The Property contains tropical rainforests at their latitudinal and climatic limits and is therefore

floristically and structurally less diverse and less species rich than those found in the large Indomalayan and Amazonian rainforest blocks. The Wet Tropics is distinct from other tropical forests however, in that it has a strong Gondwanic element with a large number of plant and animal taxa with primitive characteristics. In an evolutionary context, the Wet Tropics is a living museum - a relict of the Gondwana era of 100 million years ago. The Wet Tropics also displays a co-evolution with related sclerophyil floras and faunas which typify most of the Australian continent.

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The world’s humid tropics are for the most part o f recent origin, and although many areas possess exceptional species richness their level of endemism is generally quite low. The long-isolated ancient floras of New Caledonia, Madagascar and the Wet Tropics, however, have exceptionally high levels of endemism. The Wet Tropics, as a centre of endemism, is unique being part of an ancient continental as opposed to island landscape. The Wet Tropics is second only to New Caledonia in the number of endemic rainforest plant genera conserved per unit area (43 genera and 500 species). O f the endemic genera,

75 per cent are monotypic and none contain more than a few species. The Wet Tropics is the only habitat for about 350 species of plant and over 80 species of vertebrate animal that are regarded as rare, vulnerable or endangered.

The Wet Tropics region, although accounting for only 0.26% of the total area of the Australian continent, conserves a very large proportion of its biological diversity (Table 1 ).

Table 1. Importance of the Wet Tropics to Australia’s biodiversity

T axonom ic gro u p P ercentage (% ) o f

A u stralia’s total T ax o n o m ic group P ercentage (% )

o f A u stra lia ’s total

A N IM A L S P L A N T S

M am m al species including: 35 fe rn species 65

• m arsupials 30 c y c a d species 21

• bats 58 c o n ife r species 37

• rodents 25 o rc h id species 30

bird species 40 v a sc u la r plant species 26

frog species 29

reptile species 20

freshw ater fish species 42

butterfly species 58

Within the Property itself there are over 2,800 species of vascular plants, representing at least 1,037 genera and 221 families. Seventy-five genera are endemic to Australia and 43 are restricted to the region. Over 700 species are restricted to the Property [3], The region as a whole supports 41% (ca. 4,000 species) of Queensland’s vascular plant species in

slightly over 1% of the State’s land area [3],

Condition of the Property

Introduction

The recent history of European occupation of the region has resulted in numerous pervasive changes over much of the Property. At the time the Wet Tropics was inscribed on the World Heritage list, the condition of the Property ranged from pristine to various stages of regeneration resulting from a range of human activities [2], The Wet Tropics

Management Plan 1998 [4], for example, identified 461,620ha of the Property as being remote from human disturbances and has been zoned to ensure its protection. A further 414,372ha was identified as having evidence of past, but now redundant human disturbances, such as logging tracks, log dumps and abandoned small-scale mine sites,

and has been zoned to allow natural regeneration processes to eventually restore its ecological integrity. A further 18,259ha of the Property accommodates existing public utilities and community service infrastructure. Such areas have been zoned and are now

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regulated to ensure that activities associated with these public utilities are managed to minimise impacts on the integrity of the Property.

Condition refers to the ecological health of the Property as displayed by the capacity of forest ecosystems across the landscape for recovery from a range o f disturbances and for retention of their ecological resiliency. The time of listing (December 1988) provides the reference for comparison of ecological condition and significant disturbance agents and regimes which are known to be major disruptors o f natural ecological processes and successional patterns are used as broad indicators.

Succession is a fundamental process operating in natural ecosystems which together with disturbance determine vegetation and ecosystem dynamics from single-tree canopy gaps to forest landscapes. Altered successional patterns are established following novel (eg logging) or extreme (e.g. cyclones) events. The invasion of natural systems by non-native species (eg feral animals, weeds, diseases and pathogens) can also have far reaching impacts on the ecological condition of natural areas.

Canopy/structural damage

The most pervasive past human disturbance to the Property’s condition was logging. Up until listing, parts of the Property had been available to a 70 year history of selective removal of commercial timber species. At one time or another about 160 rainforest species were commercially harvested. Long-term average yields from the Property, prior to listing, were 63,000m3 of timber per annum from an available area of 158,000ha. Not all of the available area was, however, accessible to logging [3],

Logging resulted in a wide range of impacts, affecting most ecosystem processes and deflecting successional processes in some instances and halting it in extreme cases. In many parts of the Property, canopy and structural damage initially caused by logging activities has been perpetuated or exacerbated by subsequent cyclone and storm damage, as the irregular tree canopies following the selective removal of trees results in greater wind turbulence and further structural damage to the forest. Although logging has been a prohibited activity in the Property since 1987 and although most of the region’s rainforests are very resilient, it will take many more decades before successional processes restores the natural condition. The Authority’s vegetation mapping project [5] has identified a large proportion of the Property which still exhibit broken and irregular canopies. In some extreme cases, persistent vine-draped canopy gaps have been observed on a time-sequence of air photos dating back to the 1940s. In many areas of heavy pre-

1955 logging, successional processes have been deflected with forest canopy now dominated by monocultures of acacia. The selective removal of late serai component species has also resulted in an artificial over abundance of mid-seral communities over large parts of the Property, resulting in a more homogeneous forest that lacks stands in the oldest classes.

The cessation of logging activities and the removal o f the infrastructure associated with this industry within the Property has been of major importance in improving the overall condition of the Property although its legacy will be evident for many years to come.

Clearing

Also scattered throughout the Property are a number of human disturbances that cumulatively detract from the overall natural integrity. These, however, account for a small proportion of the total size of the Property. Some examples are dams, roads, transmission lines, quarries, abandoned mine sites and land uses associated with freehold

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and leasehold tenures which resulted in a total of 7538ha of forest clearing at the time of listing. Most of these clearings were associated with the provision of water, vehicular access and electricity distribution (Table 2). These clearings and disturbances affect the Property’s condition through habitat loss and alteration, habitat fragmentation and a range of biophysical edge effect impacts.

Habitat loss associated with vehicular access and electricity supply and distribution networks accounted for over half this total (4475ha) of which 2226ha are still maintained for the provision of community and management access and electricity distribution.

Major aquatic habitat alterations and terrestrial habitat drowning was associated with the flooding of forests and watercourses behind three artificial dams and impoundments (Paluma Dam, Koombooloomba Dam and Copperlode Falls Dam) which account for a further 2129ha of forest clearing. Using the density determinations of Cogger et al [6] an estimate of the direct impact of terrestrial habitat loss through flooding includes the death or displacement of 2.04 million trees, 107,430 mammals and 70,260 birds.

Table 2. Extent of habitat loss/alteration within the Property at the time of listing and at present Clearing type Pre-listing

area(ha)

Present area (ha)

roads 3,679 1,609

inundation (dams) 2,129 2,134

powerlines 772 617

paddocks 197 266

settlements 120 121

fire degraded hill slopes 105 105

sugarcane 65 80

recreation areas 45 45

quarries 43 20

pine plantations 36 36

orchards & plantations 32 32

railways 22 22

Communication facilities 3 3

other (mine sites, cableways, helipads etc) 290 240

Total 7,538 5,330

The main increases in post-listing clearing occurred on freehold land in the period prior to the commencement of the Wet Tropics Management Plan (1998). Approximately 15ha of forested freehold land adjacent to the Hull River was cleared and converted to sugar cane, 69ha was converted to pasture in the Bramston Beach (46ha) and Cardwell (23ha) areas

and two small clearings (lha) occurred in the Daintree lowlands section of the Property. The expansion o f the Herberton water supply resulted in the inundation of 5ha of open forest and a further lha was cleared in the upgrading and re-routing of the South Mission Beach water supply pipeline.

There has been a very significant reduction (2208ha) in maintained clearings in the Property since listing. The biggest single factor in this reduction was the closing of over 6500km of unformed logging roads and tracks which had a combined cleared area footprint of 2070ha (based on the average width of the various forestry road type classes).

Natural recovery and successional processes associated with the closing of these roads should lead to the eventual restoration of almost 2 million trees, 104,500 mammals and 68,000 birds. Changes to the way in which high voltage powerline easements are

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maintained has also resulted in an estimated 20% improvement in overall canopy connectivity across previously cleared areas under powerlines.

Fragmentation

Although the services supplied by community infrastructure are essential for regional development, their construction, operation and maintenance detracts from the overall integrity of the Property. One of the most significant impacts associated with cleared infrastructure corridors, particularly through rainforests, is ecological fragmentation.

Fragmentation of native forest creates new edges between the remaining forest and the clearing which leads to a range o f ‘edge’ effects. These include changes to the forest in the border region such as different levels o f exposure to the sun and wind and changes in water cycles and local air temperatures and invasion by opportunistic species such as weeds and feral animals. Fragmentation also isolates and creates barriers between patches of forest.

The network of roads and powerlines through the Property, and on a regional scale, broadscale clearing for agriculture, has created artificial barriers restricting the movement of species. Such barriers suddenly alter historic natural patterns of gene flow among populations which may have serious consequences for the long-term preservation of evolutionary diversity. Edge effects associated with fragmentation can

have large impacts on the assemblage structure, diversity and relative abundances of both plant and animal species for some distance into the adjoining forest [29],

Roads An estimated 1,217km of roads or vehicle tracks continue to be accessible to the public within the Property. The commencement of the Wet Tropics Management Plan saw the prohibition of vehicle use of 6,535km of vehicle tracks in the Property. The habitat fragmentation impacts o f a road can be amplified by road use which results in noise, vibration, movement, dust, emissions, and lights, each of which can interfere with wildlife activities and behaviour.

A summary of the length and purpose of roads and access tracks within the Property which remain available for use under the Wet Tropics Management Plan is provided in Table 3.

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Table 3. Extent, types and purpose of maintained roads in the Property

R oad class an d p u rp o se

L en gth (km )

1998-2002 2 0 0 2 -2004

State con trolled road s (roads w h ic h fo rm p art o f th e S ta te ’s ro ad n etw o rk ) 101 101

C om m u n ity access roads (local co m m u n ity tra n sp o rt ro ad s)

150 150

P resen tation u n restricted (roads w h ich p ro v id e v eh icle-b ased presen tatio n opportunities)

230 230

P resen tation restricted (roads w h ere p u b lic access is restricted an d a p e rm it is required)

234 242

L an d h old er access (provide legal access to p ro p e rtie s in or a d ja c e n t to the Property)

153 153

M an agem en t (provide access fo r m an ag em en t activities in c lu d in g the service o f public u tilities)

345 341

T otal 1,213 1,217

The only changes in maintained roads and their classification since the commencement of the Wet Tropics Management Plan 1998 occurred in 2003. These changes were associated with the Misty Mountains Trails project which provides a network of short and long distance walks. Two sections of road were reclassified under the Plan to facilitate access

to the walking track network including the reopening of 4km of disused forestry road and the reclassifying of 4km of management road to presentation restricted road.

Powerlines Although there are fewer kilometres of power transmission lines than roads through the Property, the clearings associated them are wider, the fragmentation impacts greater and

the array of edge effects of a greater magnitude. For example, powerline easements have been found to adversely affect bird diversity for up to 125m beyond the cleared area [7], Wide powerline clearings are also effective barriers to the movement of most non-flying

terrestrial and arboreal rainforest fauna. Powerline clearings are a major cause of weed and pest intrusions into the Property and also provide a conduit for fire penetration into rainforest areas.

In recognition of the fragmentation effects caused by linear community infrastmcture within the Property, wherever feasible and opportunities arise, obsolete infrastmcture has been phased-out, and considerable efforts have been invested in improving management

and maintenance practices through the use of codes of environmental practice and detailed environmental management plans. These activities are resulting in major improvements in the level of connectivity across powerline easements and an overall reduction in internal fragmentation within the Property.

Disease

Extensive mortality of vegetation or fauna from diseases and pathogens are often equated with an unhealthy forest.

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Forest dieback The health of some areas of rainforest within the Property has been affected to varying degrees by pathogenic Phytophthora induced canopy dieback. Widespread small dead patches of rainforest caused by outbreaks of Phytophthora cinnamomi were first recorded

in the 1970s prior to World Heritage listing. More recent outbreaks were found in the late 1990s and continue to the present day. The cause or trigger of these outbreaks is presently unknown, but appear to be correlated to past disturbances associated with the logging industry.

The Authority’s ongoing vegetation mapping program [5] has so far identified over 200 small patches of dead rainforest in the Mount Lewis, Lamb Range and Tully Falls sections of the Property. Based on preliminary findings, approximately 14% of the Property may be susceptible and at risk from rainforest dieback [8], At least five species of phytophthora have been identified from dieback sites: P. cinnamomi, P. heveae, P. katsuurae, P. palmivora and another, as yet unidentified species.

Chvtrid fungus Chytridiomycosis, or chytrid fungus, is a disease of amphibians caused by Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis. B. dendrobatidis appears to have emerged in Southeast Queensland or northern New South Wales in the late 1970s (first case detected in

December 1978) and subsequently spread, eventually reaching the Wet Tropics in the early 1990s.

Several species of locally endemic rainforest stream-dwelling frogs, which were once distributed widely and in high numbers throughout the Wet Tropics, vanished within a very short period of time from altitudes above 300m. Four species, the Northern Tinker frog (Taudactylus rheophilus), Sharp-snouted Day frog (T. acutirostris), Mountain Mist frog (Litoria nyakalensis), and the Armoured Mist frog (Litoria lorica) only occurred at high altitudes and are now considered extinct except for the Northern Tinker frog which was rediscovered at two mountaintop locations in late 1996.

Another four species, the Common Mist frog (Litoria rheocola), Waterfall frog (L. nannotis), Australian Lace-lid (Nyctimystes dayi) and the Green-eyed Tree frog (L. genimaculata) have suffered extensive declines, and are no longer able to be located from their high altitude habitats. However, they still persist in their lower elevation habitats.

Biological invasion

Invasive plants For millions of years, ocean and climatic barriers provided the isolation which resulted in the evolution of the Wet Tropics’ unique species and ecosystems. Modem trade, transport and lifestyles have rendered the region’s natural barriers partially ineffective and millions of years of biological isolation have inadvertently come to an abmpt end. The number of invasive species, and their cumulative impacts, are accelerating at an alarming rate despite an array of programs designed to stop or control them.

Pest plants generally compete vigorously with native species for water, nutrients, light, habitat or pollinators. Weed invasion results in the elimination, at least locally, of native plants. This in turn affects animal biodiversity by removing or reducing food supplies,

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nesting sites and cover from predators. Although most pest plants do not invade undisturbed habitats, they often prevent native species regenerating in disturbed areas.

In the Property itself, the majority of invasive pest plants are associated with service corridor clearings such as powerline easements and road verges which act as both habitats and conduits for their dispersal.

Within the region, 508 exotic plant taxa have been identified as having become naturalised [9], which amounts to almost 11% of the region’s native flora and represents almost 39% of Queensland’s naturalised alien plant species total of 1298 species [10]. About 40 of these regional naturalisations are currently considered environmental weeds within the Property.

The number of recorded naturalised and weed species in the region has grown rapidly over the past 50 years (Figure 1). Their spread is also increasing. The rate of increase in recorded naturalised plant species is alarming with around 200 new naturalised species having been identified in the region in the past decade.

F igu re 1.

600

i 300

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12

Decade

The total number of alien plant species recorded as naturalised in the Wet Tropics bioregion during 10 year increments where Decade: 1 = pre 1900; 2 = 1900-09; 3 = 1910-19; 4 = 1920-29; 5= 1930-39; 6 = 1940-49; 7 = 1950-59; 8 = 1960-69; 9 = 1970-79; 10 = 1980-89; 11 = 1990-99; 12 = unofficial records for the bioregion [9].

The Wet Tropics Conservation Strategy [11] provides details of the Authority’s priorities for weed eradication (for instance newly emerging highly aggressive weeds such as Miconia calvescens) , weed control of widespread invasive weeds and weed containment of localised but highly abundant naturalised plants.

Invasive animals Pest animal species affect the condition of the Property by predation, competition for food or breeding areas, from habitat changes, or the transmission of parasites and other disease

organisms.

Queensland has been invaded by at least 19 mammals, 11 bird, 11 fish, 2 reptile and 1 amphibian species which have established breeding populations and become naturalised (Table 4). Many of these have become established in the Wet Tropics.

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Table 4. Numbers of naturalised animal species

G roup N u m b er o f

n atu ralised verteb rate sp ecies - Q u e e n sla n d 1

N u m b e r o f n a tu ra lised v e r te b r a te sp ecies - W e t T r o p ic s2

mammals 19 7

birds 11 5

fish 11 5+

reptiles 2 2

amphibians 1 1

'E P A (1 9 9 9 ), 2W e rre n (2 0 0 1 ), E P A W ild n c t (2 0 0 1 ), 3E P A (2 0 0 2 ).

An assessment of the status of the naturalised vertebrate species within the region found that the current major vertebrate pests are the pig, cat, cane toad and dog/dingo [12]. These species achieved a high ranking due to their current high levels of ecological impacts and because of the current lack of feasible options to control their numbers.

It has been estimated that there are in the vicinity of 27,000 feral pigs in the region (J. Mitchell pers. com). Since 1993 the Authority has supported a coordinated regional feral pig trapping program which has resulted in a total of 6,500 pigs being trapped and destroyed between 1994 and 1999. All attempts at control of the feral pig in the region have been ineffectual and population densities are probably greater now than at the time of listing. Apart from the feral pig, no estimates of feral animal numbers, densities or distribution have been undertaken within the region.

Recreational freshwater fishing is a popular activity in the region and generates considerable economic benefits. Large predatory fighting fish are preferentially desired by anglers but these do not occur in all locations. In response to this, native fish have been translocated around the region to create recreational fisheries. Even where suitable recreational species do occur, stocks are sometimes supplemented to boost catch rates.

Since the introduction of the Recreational Fishing Enhancement Program (RFEP) in 1986, nearly 2 million fish have been stocked in the Wet Tropics [13], and the rate of stocking is increasing. The major concern is the introduction of predatory fish in upland areas above natural barriers such as waterfalls, where they were never previously found, and their potential impact on stream biodiversity. The Wet Tropics is home to 42% of Australia’s

freshwater fish species and no research has been undertaken to gauge the impact of translocating large predatory fish into aquatic habitats in the region.

Although the number of vertebrate pest species has remained stable for several years, their population numbers, distribution and ecological impacts are poorly understood but assumed to be increasing. It must be assumed also, that many naturalised plants and animals are presently ‘sleeper species’ whose numbers are destined to erupt in the future. It is considered that the threat posed by invasive plants, animals and diseases is greater now than at the time of listing. Several invasive environmental pest species are already beyond our management capacity to effectively and sustainably control given present resources and knowledge.

Fire

It has been found that ecologically significant changes to the rainforest/open forest boundary have taken place over the last 50 years with large areas of wet sclerophyll forest types, in particular, being progressively converted to simple rainforest. Presently, wet

sclerophyll forests occur as a discontinuous strip up to 4km wide along the western

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margin of the rainforest and occupy approximately 54,000ha. This represents only half the extent identified from airphotos taken in the 1940s [14], The narrow strip of tall open forest is important for the conservation of one of the mammals restricted to the bioregion, the endangered northern bettong (Bettongia tropica), and the northern population of two other species of mammals restricted to this forest type - the yellow-bellied glider (Petaurus australis) and the swamp rat (Rattus lutreolus). It is a matter of urgency to determine which biota are dependent upon wet sclerophyll forest types and the level of threat to these species imposed by this rapid trend toward rainforest conversion.

The apparent severe dismption of historical fire patterns in the last twenty years, particularly where they affect some of the more restricted types of sclerophyll habitat, and the unlikely event of their re-establishment in the future in the face of permanent changes to the landscape from settlement activities, casts in doubt the survival or regeneration of a number of the more restricted sclerophyll vegetation types.

Table 5. Fire-affected areas (FAA) for the region [15] Area of region 1998-99 1999-2000

(km2) FAA (km2) FAA (km2)

18,257 48 621

Conversely, inappropriate fire management has also impacted on some rainforested areas which are not adapted to burning. Extreme examples are areas of fire-degraded hillslopes where rainforests have been converted to grasslands. Within the Property itself there are 105ha of these fire-degraded hillslopes. Changes to sugarcane harvesting techniques and

urban expansion has reduced the frequency of hillslope fires penetrating into rainforest communities, and there has been no increase in this category of disturbance since listing.

Climate change

The forest ecosystems seen today are the products of species evolution and migration over aeons of time on a constantly shifting landscape driven by slow-cycles of changes in climate. Long-term, persistent trends in temperature and humidity determine the extent and location of the various life zones and the elevation at which one biotic community

replaces another.

Elevated levels of greenhouse gases as a result of the burning of fossil fuels, land clearing, and other human activities are causing changes to the global climate which are expected to occur at rates too fast for evolutionary processes, such as natural selection, to keep pace. As climate wanns, the preferred climatic conditions for a species will shift to higher

altitudes or latitudes and its survival will depend on both its ability to relocate quickly enough and on the availability and accessibility of alternative habitats. Species most at risk are those with small population sizes and poor dispersal abilities (features of most Wet Tropics biota). The disruption of potential migration paths by human activities will

also influence the ability of organisms to adjust geographically to climate change. Urban development, agriculture, pastoralism and infrastmcture corridors such as wide powerline clearings and highways will act as barriers, preventing the movement of many species to new more favourable areas. Rainforest species which are dependent on canopy cover will

be especially vulnerable to the effects of such landscape fragmentation. Computer simulations suggest cloud bands are shifting upwards on tropical mountains during the dry season [ 16] with upland nodes of endemism likely to be particularly susceptible to climate change effects in the near future [17].

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Due to the predicted rapid rate of climate change and the associated increased frequency of severe climatic events such as cyclones, floods and droughts, biodiversity, locally endemic and spatially restricted species will be under severe pressure over the coming decades.

Compared to 1990, predicted warming for coastal north east Queensland is 1.4 to 5.8° C by 2100 with a +4% to -10% change in rainfall per degree of warming, depending on location [18]. Current computer modelling simulations (Figure 2) predict the loss of up to 66% of all the Property’s locally endemic vertebrate species over the next 50 to 100 years as a consequence [19] of the current trends in climate change. The impacts o f internal fragmentation as barriers to movement and migration are expected to exacerbate this impact in addition to assisting accelerated pest invasions and providing conduits for increases in fire risk.

Current climate + 1 deg C + 3.5 deg C + 5 deg C + 7 deg C

Figure 2: Geographic pattern of species richness of regionally endemic rainforest vertebrates at varying temperature scenarios predicted to 2100 [19].

The effects of climate change, particularly with respect to increases in extreme El Nino- like weather conditions, have been more evident since listing. But it is our awareness of the issue and its potential impacts that has increased dramatically since listing.

Rare & threatened species

The region has a total of 351 rare or threatened plant species [20]. Of the 29 recorded plant extinctions in Queensland [21], 17 were formally endemic to the Wet Tropics [20], These extinct species, in general, have not been recorded for over 50 years. The high proportion of the State’s presumed extinct, endangered and vulnerable plants for the Wet Tropics highlights the vulnerability, small population size and restricted distribution of many of the region’s locally endemic plants and the pattern and extent of past habitat clearing. The Wet Tropics has a total of 98 animal species officially listed as either rare or threatened. Endangered fauna recorded from the Property include seven frog species, three marsupials and one bird. A further 16 vertebrate species found within the Property are classified as vulnerable [20].

Since the Property was inscribed as a World Heritage Area in 1988, there have been major changes to the official lists of rare and threatened plants and animals (Table 6 &7). These changes do not reflect a real trend in the condition or conservation status of the

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region’s plants and animals since listing, but rather are an indication of increased knowledge of their distribution, ecology, threatening process and consequential management requirements. It should also be noted that the figures for 1988 pre-date official legislative schedules and listings and refer to the lists prepared specially for the Wet Tropics World Heritage nomination document [1],

Table 6. Trends in the conservation status of Wet Tropics plant species1 Status' 1 9 8 8 2 1993 1 9 9 4 1995 1 9 9 6 1 9 9 7 1998 1999 2 0 0 0 2001 2003

Presumed 2 6 6 14 14 14 14 14 14 17 17

extinct Endangered 8 24 24 23 16 16 18 18 18 42 42

Vulnerable 32 53 53 47 46 46 65 65 65 54 54

Rare 256 328 328 342 327 327 367 367 367 238 238

Sub-total 298 411 411 426 403 403 464 464 464 351 351

1N ature C onservation ( Wildlife) R egulation 1994 (including all amendments up to SL No. 354 of 2000); 2DASETT 1987

Table 7. Trends in the conservation status of the Property’s animal species Status' 1 9 8 8 2 1 9 9 4 1 9 9 5 1996 1 9 9 7 1 9 9 8 1 9 9 9 2000 2 0 0 1 2003

Presumed 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0

extinct Endangered 1 10 12 12 12 12 12 13 13 13

Vulnerable 18 5 13 13 13 13 13 18 18 18

Rare 5 28 51 51 51 51 51 51 51 51

Sub-total 24 43 76 76 76 76 76 82 82 82

'N ature C onservation (W ildlife) R egulation 1994 (in c lu d in g a ll a m e n d m e n ts u p to S L N o . 3 5 4 o f 2 0 0 0 ); 2D A S E T T 1987

State-listed rare and threatened species [21] are afforded statutory protection under the Nature Conservation Act 1992 [22],

The Commonwealth’s EPBC Act [23] lists nationally threatened species and provides for the development and implementation of species recovery plans. The Commonwealth’s Endangered Species Program is implemented through parallel programs run by the State. QPWS is the lead agency with respect to species recovery planning within Queensland.

Recovery plans are presently in place for the following Wet Tropics species: • frogs (eight species) [24] [25], • northern bettong [26], • mahogany glider [27] • cassowary [28] • cave-dwelling bats.

Tenure

The increase in higher order land protection within the Property since listing has been significant (Table 8). At the time of listing (December 1988) only 14% of the Property was National Park. Since that time there has been an average increasing trend of 4500ha per year being added to the National Park estate. Over this same period there was an

average 3300ha per year increase in the area of State Forests unencumbered by leases and an average reduction of 6600ha per year in the area of leases and freehold land within the Property. The finalisation of the State Forest Transfer process will result in most of the interim Forest Reserve tenure being converted to National Park.

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Table 8. Proportional trends in land tenure in the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area.

T enure

1992 1995 1997

P ercen ta g e o f WHA 1998 1999 2000 2002 2003

National parks 28 28 30 30 30 32 32 32

Forest Reserve - - - - - - 29 38.9

State forests 36 38 38 38 38 39 10 0.1

Timber reserves 9 8 8 8 8 8 7 7

Various reserves & dams 1 1 1 1 1 l 1 1

Unallocated State Land 7 7 8 8 8 7 7 7

Leasehold 16 15 12 12 12 10 11 11

Freehold & similar 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2

Rivers, roads, esplanades, railways 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1

Total 100 100 100 100 100 100 100 100

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References for State and Condition Report [1] DASETT (1987). Nomination of the Wet Tropical Rainforests of North-east Australia by the Government of Australia for Inclusion in the World Heritage List. Department of

Arts, Sport, the Environment, Tourism and Territories. Canberra. December 1987.

[2] IUCN (1988). World Heritage Nomination — IUCN Technical Evaluation o f486 Wet Tropical Rainforests of North-east Australia.

[3] WTMA (2002). Periodic Report on the Application of the World Heritage Convention. Section II. State of Conservation of Specific World Heritage Properties. Wet Tropics of Queensland. Attachment I: Update o f Original Nomination Dossier. Wet Tropics Management Authority. Caims.

[4] Wet Tropics Management Plan 1998: http://www.legislation.qld.gov.au/LEGISLTN/SLS/1998/98SL161.pdf

[5] Stanton, J.P.& Stanton, D. (1997-2004). Vegetation of the Wet Tropics Bioregion (37 maps at 1:50,000 scale + key and descriptive reports). WTMA. Caims.

[6] Cogger, H., Ford, H., Johnson, C., Holman, J. & Butler, D. (2003). Impacts o f Land Clearing on Australian Wildlife in Queensland. WWF Australia Report.

[7] Baker, J., Goldingay, R.L. & Whelan, R.J. (1998). Powerline easements through forests: a case study of impacts on avifauna. Pacific Conservation Biology 4: 79-89.

[8] Gadek, P., Gillieson, D., Edwards, W., Landsberg, J. & Price, J. (2001). Rainforest Dieback Mapping and Assessment in the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area. James Cook University & Rainforest CRC, Caims.

[9] Werren, G. (2001). Environmental Weeds of the Wet Tropics Bioregion: Risk Assessment and Priority Ranking. Rainforest CRC, Caims.

[10] EPA (1999). State of the Environment Queensland 1999. Environmental Protection Agency, Brisbane.

[11] WTMA (2004). Wet Tropics Conservation Strategy. Wet Tropics Management Authority, Caims.

[12] Harrison, D.A. & Congdon, B.C. (2001). Wet Tropics Vertebrate Pest Risk Assessment Scheme. Rainforest CRC & School of Tropical Biology, James Cook University, Caims

[13] Burrows, D. (2002). Fish Stocking and the Distribution and Potential Impact of Translocated Fishes in Streams o f the Wet Tropics Region, Northern Queensland. Report to the Wet Tropics Management Authority ACTFR Report No. 02/04.

[14] Harrington, G.N. & Sanderson, K.D. (1993). Vegetation Changes at the Rainforest/Wet Sclerophyll Boundary in the Wet Tropics of North Queensland 1940s - 1990s. Report to the Wet Tropics Management Authority, Caims.

[15] Williams, J., Read, C., Norton, A., Dovers, S., Burgman, M., Proctor, W. & Anderson, H. (2001). Biodiversity. Australia State of the Environment Report 2001 (Theme Report), CSIRO Publishing on behalf of the Department of the Environment and Heritage, Canberra.

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[ 16] Still, C.J., Foster, P.N. & Schneider, S.H. (1999). Simulating the effects of climate change on tropical montane cloud forests. Nature 398: 608-610.

[17] Foster, P. (2001). The potential negative impacts of global climate change on tropical montane cloud forests. Earth Science Reviews 55: 73-106

[18] Walsh, K., Hennessy, K., Jones, R., Pittock, B., Rotstayn, L., Suppiah, R. & Whetton, P. (2000). Climate Change in Queensland Under Enhanced Greenhouse Conditions. Second Annual Report. CSIRO Atmospheric Research, Melbourne.

[19] Williams, S E. Bolitho, E. & Fox, S. (2003). Climate Change in Australian Tropical Rainforests: an impending Environmental Disaster. Proceeding o f the Royal Society of London 1527: 1887-1892.

[20] Goosem, S., Morgan, G. & Kemp, J.E. (1999). Wet Tropics. In: Sattler, P.S. & Williams, R.D (eds). The Conservation Status o f Queensland’s Bioregional Ecosystems. Environmental Protection Agency, Brisbane.

[21] Queensland’s Nature Conservation (Wildlife) Regulation 1994: http://www.legislation.qld.gov.aU/LEGISLTN/CURRENT/N/NatureConWilR94_02C.pdf

[22] Nature Conservation Act 1992: http://www.legislation.qld.gov.aU/LEGISLTN/CURRENT/N/NatureConA92 03 .pdf

[23] Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999: http://www.deh.gov.au/epbc/about/index.html

[24] Stream-dwelling rainforest frogs of the wet tropics biogeographic region of north-east Queensland Recovery plan 2000 - 2004: http://www.ea.gov.au/biodiversity/threatened/recovery/rainforest-frogs/index.html

[25] Recovery plan for the magnificent broodfrog Pseudophryne covacevichae 2000-2004: http://www.ea.gov.au/biodiversity/threatened/recovery/magnificent- broodfrog/index.html

[26] Recovery plan for the northern bettong (Bettongia tropica) 2000 - 2004: http://www.ea.gov.au/biodiversity/threatened/recovery/northern-bettong/index.html

[27] Mahogany glider recovery plan 2000-2004: http://www.ea.gov.au/biodiversity/threatened/recovery/mahogany-glider/index.html

[28] Recovery plan for the southern cassowary Casuarius casuarius johnsonii 2001-2005: http://www.ea.gov.au/biodiversity/threatened/recoverv/southem-cassowarv/index.html

[29] Laurance, W.F. & Bierregaard, R.O. (1997). Tropical Forest Remnants: Ecology, Management and Conservation o f Fragmented Communities. University of Chicago Press, Chicago.

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THE PARLIAMENT OF THE COMMONWEALTH OF AUSTRALIA

PARLIAMENTARY PAPER No. 48 of 2005 ORDERED TO BE PRINTED

ISSN 0727-4181