Wet Tropics of Queensland integrity
Invasive species, pathogens and climate change are impacting the Wet Tropics’ Outstanding Universal Value.
When inscribed in December 1988, the Wet Tropics was identified as an essentially intact ecosystem with the level of human impact low (especially when compared to other tropical forest regions): 80% of the estimated cover originally present at the time of the first European settlement remained.
Despite some fragmentation, the area and vegetation cover remains largely intact.
Key threatening processes to the Area include:
- climate change
- invasive plants, animals and pathogens
- altered fire regimes.
Invasive plant and animal pest species, along with a number of pathogens, are impacting on World Heritage values of the Area.
- Trends indicate some threatened species seem to be deteriorating, despite recovery and action plans.
- The spread of invasive weeds, pest animals such as yellow crazy ants, and plant diseases such as myrtle rust are difficult to manage and resource intensive.
Climate change poses a particular threat to montane species restricted to the upland forests (birds, mammals, plants) within the Area.
Since European settlement, disruption of traditional burning regimes used by Rainforest Aboriginal Peoples impacts non-rainforest ecosystems in the Area. These ecosystems evolved under the influence of fire and rely on particular regimes to retain their integrity. Additionally, climate change effects of hotter and drier dry seasons result in drying out of some regional ecosystems putting them at higher risk of conveying wildfires.
Some threats can be mitigated with effective planning and good management, such as the pressures associated with:
- increased permanent population
- visitor numbers.
More research and monitoring are needed to better understand how to effectively mitigate these threats now and into the future.