Wet Tropics legislation

The Federal Government is a signatory to the World Heritage Convention, an international treaty which binds the Government to protect World Heritage Areas for future generations. The Wet Tropics World Heritage Protection and Management Act 1993 is the Queensland legislation which sets out the role of the Wet Tropics Management Authority in managing the World Heritage Area. The Act also provides the legal basis for the Wet Tropics Management Plan 1998. The Plan regulates land use activities in the World Heritage Area through a zoning and permit system. The Plan is based on five broad approaches:

  • Four zones have been established according to the relative integrity of localities
  • A range of activities which could potentially impact on the World Heritage Area have been prohibited - in particular, activities which destroy vegetation, result in land degradation, affect streams or spoil scenic values
  • Some specified activities are allowed without a permit
  • Some specified activities are regulated through a permit system
  • Management agreements may allow some activities, otherwise prohibited, if the agreement contributes to the achievement of the Primary Goal of the World Heritage management

Please note: The Plan is currently being reviewed as part of the Wet Tropics Plan Review process.

Associated with the Wet Tropics Management Plan is Protection through Partnerships, a plain English explanation of the Authority's policies which underpin the Plan.

Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act

Australian legislation which relates to the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area includes the Environment Protection & Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999. Under this Act a person must not, without an approval under the Act, take an action that is likely to have a significant impact on a matter of national environmental significance. These inlcude:

  • World Heritage properties
  • RAMSAR wetlandsand threatened species or ecological community listed under the Act
  • listed migratory species
  • the environment in a Commonwealth marine area or on Commonwealth land

The Act requires that a person proposing to take an action should contact the Commonwealth Minister for the Environment for a decision on whether or not the action needs an approval. If a Commonwealth environmental approval is required, this will be in addition to relevant State approvals. For further information, see the Australian Government website.



Nature Conservation Act

The Nature Conservation Act 1992 provides for the conservation and ecologically sustainable use of biological diversity on National Parks and other protected areas. Under the Act, the Nature Conservation (Wildlife) Regulation 1994 regulates protected wildlife, including conservation of rare and threatened plants and animals, throughout Queensland. Significantly, the Wet Tropics Management Plan does not regulate animal wildlife and relies on Nature Conservation Regulations for the management of animal wildlife on and off protected areas.


Other legislation

Other legislation which is important for management of the World Heritage Area includes:

  • the Forestry Act 1959 (Qld) which regulates management and protection of State Forests and Timber Reserves

  • the Vegetation Management Act 1999 (Qld) - the VMA - which regulates the clearing of vegetation on freehold land

  • the Land Act 1994 and Land Regulation 1995 (Qld) which regulate vegetation clearing on State land

  • the Natural Resources and Other Legislation Amendment Act 2000 (Qld) which introduced conservation covenants and amended the Land Act 1994

  • the Biosecurity Act 2014 which regulates prohibited and restricted matter including specified weeds, feral animals and diseases

  • the Sustainable Planning Act 2009 which obliges each local council to create a plan regulating the effects of development activities

  • the Coastal Protection and Management Act 1995 (Qld) which provides for the protection and management of the Queensland coast and the development of coastal management plans

  • the Fisheries Act 1994 (Qld) which regulates the management, use, development and protection of fisheries resources and fish habitats and the management of aquaculture activities

  • the Water Act 2000 (Qld) which deals with water use, entitlements and allocations, and planning for water management

  • all instruments in force under the World Heritage Properties Conservation Act 1983 (Cwlth), which continue to apply since the Act’s repeal upon the introduction of the EPBC Act in 1999.


Legislation for Aboriginal interests

Conservation and land management must also take into account Aboriginal rights and interests as defined in the following legislation:

  • The Native Title Act 1993 (Cwlth)

  • The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Heritage Protection Act 1984 (Cwlth)

  • The Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Act 2003 (Qld)

  • Section 10(5) of the Wet Tropics World Heritage Protection and Management Act 1993 (Qld)

  • Section 60 of the Wet Tropics Management Plan 1998 (Qld)

If you need to view any piece of legislation in Queensland, you can visit the website of the Queensland Parliamentary Counsel.


News and Events

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News and Events

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Yellow crazy ant taskforce go to battle

Yellow crazy ant taskforce go to battle

Taskforce set to hand-treat yellow crazy ant infestations in southern Cairns suburbs and World Heritage Area... READ MORE

The Authority's July eNews out now

The Authority's July eNews out now

From taking to the skies to getting down among the rainforest and communities, the Authority has been spreading itself wide. ... READ MORE

Kids get 'wild' with eco-art sculptures

Kids get 'wild' with eco-art sculptures

The Wet Tropics Management Authority has joined students, parents and teachers at the Cairns Botanic Gardens Centre to celebrate their contributi... READ MORE