What is biodiversity?
Biodiversity is the variety of all life forms: the different plants, animals and micro-organisms, their genes and the ecosystems of which they are a part. There are three widely recognised levels of biodiversity - entire ecosystems, the species which interact to make up ecosystems and genetic differences within each species.
Irreplaceable and outstanding Wet Tropics biodiversity
More recently, studies on irreplaceability, uniqueness and rarity have argued that these qualities should be essential when assessing the Outstanding Universal Value of a World Heritage property. The Wet Tropics World Heritage Area was ranked sixth among all global sites and second among World Heritage sites for its irreplaceable endemic species and threatened species. You can read more in our Irreplaceable and Outstanding eBulletinn article.
The Wet Tropics - a biodiversity hotspot
In 2010 the forests of eastern Australia (from the Wet Tropics to northern New South Wales) were recognised as one of 35 international global biodiversity hotspots. To be recognised as a hotspot a region must first have more than 1,500 endemic vascular plants and more than 70% of its original (pristine) native vegetation must have been lost or significantly degraded. This shows the importance of places like the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area which retains much of its original biodiversityand a wealth of endemic plants and animals.
The rich biodiversity of the Wet Tropics
The Wet Tropics World Heritage Area is famous for the rainforests which cloak its rugged mountain ranges and some coastal and tablelands areas. The Area also contains numerous other vegetation communities such as wet sclerophyll forests, open woodlands, riverine communities, melaleuca swamps, wetlands, coastal scrub and mangroves (see plant communities). Soils in the Area are predominantly derived from granites and rhyolites, and metamorphic sedimentary rocks. There are also some soils associated with basalt flows in the Atherton Tableland area and the coastal lowlands have extensive alluvial plains where soils can be over 60 metres deep (see geology and ancient landscapes).
The World Heritage Area (0.12 percent of Australia by area) contains over 2,800 vascular plant species of which over 700 are restricted (endemic) to the Area. The Area contains:
Plants and animals Image Gallery
Click on the images to view at a larger size.
News and Events
News and Events
A privately operated cassowary rehabilitation facility has received approval from the Department of Environment Protection (EHP) to open on the A... READ MORE
New partnerships are helping develop sustainable tourism opportunities in the Wet Tropics region.... READ MORE