Wet Tropics

Queensland's Wet Tropics are one of a handful of areas worldwide which meet all four natural criteria for World Heritage listing as they:

  • represent a major stage of the earth's evolutionary history
  • are an outstanding example of ongoing ecological and biological processes
  • contain superlative natural phenomena
  • contain the most important natural habitats for conservation of biological diversity.

Covering almost 900,000 hectares, the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area extends from Cooktown to Townsville. The area, which was listed in 1988, includes Daintree, Barron Gorge and Wooroonooran national parks, and protects Australia's most extensive remaining area of wet tropical rainforest.

Though other plant communities are present, the variety and beauty of the area lies mainly in the rainforests. The most varied in Australia, they contain an almost complete record of the evolution of plant life on earth, and have the highest concentration of primitive flowering plant families in the world. Almost 30 rainforest communities occur here, with many species in many layers of vegetation.

Two World Heritage areas meet at Daintree National Park where the rainforest grows right down to the shore and the fringing reef is just offshore. The mangrove communities are also very diverse.

Spectacular scenery goes hand-in-hand with many rare and threatened plant and animal species, for example the southern cassowary, the spotted-tailed quoll and the musky-rat kangaroo. More than 50 animal species are unique to this area, which is home to 30 per cent of Australia's marsupial species, 25 per cent of its frogs and reptiles, and about 60 per cent of its bat and butterfly species.

The area is managed with special regard for Indigenous interests, given its long history of Aboriginal occupation. The history of the Bama people who live here dates back 50,000 years to the earliest human occupation of this continent.

Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service is one of several agencies involved in managing and protecting the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area, with the Wet Tropics Management Authority responsible for overall planning to ensure this superb part of Queensland is protected for the world.

  • See Wet Tropics parks for a list of the more popular national and conservation parks in the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area.

Tropical Topics newsletters

This interpretive newsletter is for use by the tourism industry and schools. It contains information on the natural history of rainforest and savanna in North Queensland and is available on the Wet Tropics Management Authority website.