Protection through partnership
Protection through Partnership has been the World Heritage mantra since 1988. What makes the concept of World Heritage exceptional is its universal application. World Heritage sites belong to all the peoples of the world, irrespective of the territory on which they are located.
A federally imposed international scheme, is bound to have repercussions in a country like Australia, where sovereignty of the land has been retained with individual States. Queensland accepted the funds allocated for management of the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area, but governance did not change to embrace the broader scope of protective responsibility, which now includes freehold lands.
This is the kernel of our dilemma: Daintree Rainforest Pty.Ltd., trading as Daintree Rainforest and Cooper Creek Wilderness, is responsible, through World Heritage legislation, for the conservation and protection of Lot 52 on SR357, 66.74-hectares (160-acres) in the heart of the world’s oldest rainforest. Research indicates that the land situated on the eastern flank of Thornton Peak (Wundungu) has a higher concentration of primitive angiosperms, than anywhere else in the Wet Tropics. Indeed, this wealth of perseverance and a phenomenal biological diversity in the Cooper and Noah Creek catchments, is obviously the reason for including freehold land in the World Heritage Area and is pertinent to the successful nomination. However, the freehold land is not included in Queensland’s managerial jurisdiction.
There is a cost to conservation and Cooper Creek Wilderness was established as a commercial enterprise to support the achievement of the primary goal, which is the protection, conservation, rehabilitation, presentation and transmission of the World Heritage values and integrity of the Area to future generations.
Our Protective Partnership has been forged through our presentation of the rainforest to travellers from around the world. We have entered our twenty-fifth-year of operations and have been humbly sustained by the support of a special sub-set of tourism called eco-tourism.
We have had to separate ourselves from mass-tourism by keeping numbers small, tours exclusive and presenting the forest in greater detail and with a passion engendered by the forest itself. We offer 2-hour and 4-hour guided interpreted tours. Our beautiful forest is fan-palm-dominated and our guides are local experts.
“As long-time lovers of rain forest and the tranquility it always brings, we were not expecting to be so overwhelmed by the sheer majesty and antiquity of the rain forest that you so carefully preserve and so obviously revere. The visual impact was enhanced by the generous sharing of knowledge you have acquired during your stewardship of this wondrous place, making it the best four hours of our lives; it was like being transported back through time. The bonus of it all was your descriptions of the relationship between that most ancient of peoples, the original Aboriginal inhabitants of this place, and the myriad plants, insects and animals that inhabit it – if that knowledge is ever lost it will be tragedy on a scale that is hard to measure. If I never experience the joy and wonderment of a rain forest again I will leave this life feeling utterly satisfied. We can only wish that others will take this unique opportunity to experience something that can be found nowhere else. Thank you again for the experience and for being the carer of that wonderful and wondrous piece of this planet.”
We are truly grateful for such detailed promotion and inspired to research and continue to improve our presentation. We can report that our success is positive and measurable. The numbers of people who drive to us is increasing, our forest is expanding through self-seeding and incremental take-over of the orchard, our hydro and solar power generation accounts for 95% of our consumption. We are living examples of three-generations of custodians caring for and protecting our rainforest. After all, people and communities are part of the environment.
Daintree Rainforest Foundation Ltd.
For the purpose of building upon this successful management regime and expanding protection to other freehold rainforests, Daintree Rainforest Foundation Ltd was established . We have shown that people are essential as on-site managers and integral to supporting the ecological balance of nature.