Daintree Rainforest and Cooper Creek Wilderness have maintained Advanced Ecotourism Accreditation and included ROC Respecting Our Culture and Climate Action Business Accreditation through Ecotourism Australia. These accredited awards signify our ongoing commitment to protecting, conserving and presenting the natural and cultural values of our land for present and future generations.
Now recognised as Ecotourism Leaders through our years of accredited commitment, we can also claim to be wholly funded through an enduring ecotourism partnership with ethical travellers who pay the full life cycle cost of conserving our portion of the world’s oldest rainforest on the central-eastern flank of Thornton Peak – Wundungu.
We suggest that management and conservation of the land is best achieved by the people who live upon it and that Government needs to recognise and support this more cost-effective arrangement. Indigenous Australians maintained their custodial relationships with the land as part of the natural environment for tens of thousands of years. It is because of their diligence and accumulated wisdom that Cooper Creek Wilderness is able to present pristine rainforest today and it is because of our 25-year continuous habitation in the rainforest that we have discovered new information about the rainforest and its multitude of inhabitants.
Among the changes that could support sustainability, Queensland’s Land Valuation Act 2010 needs to be amended to properly incorporate ‘Conservation’ as an essential basic responsibility of land ownership. Lands, to the extent that they are legislatively declared for conservation purposes, should be supported through tax relief. It is incongruous for government to legislate for lands to be conserved and then increase their unimproved capital value for taxation purposes, because the property can no longer generate income through harvesting of natural resources. Also, natural re-vegetation that allows ecosystems to resume cleared land ought to be recognised as an ecological improvement to the land and allocated payments as compensation for replenishment of previously degraded land.
The principle of ‘user and polluter pays for the full life cycle cost of restoring the environment’ needs to be legislated with a compliance requirement as a matter of urgency. The Intergovernmental Agreement on the Environment was agreed to and signed by all Australian State Premiers and its Prime Minster in 1992, and left to effectively languish, because of the compliance omission, allowing Australia’s cultural momentum to continue to favour the illusion of short-term economic gain over long-term sustainability.
While our taxes are supporting the unfair trading practices that emanate from this historic malpractice, Australia undermines the viability of sustainable conservation and future generations are left with the legacy of an ever-increasing environmental debt.