Australia // Coastal Queensland //

The wet tropics and World Heritage

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Queensland’s wet tropics – the coastal belt from the Paluma Range, near Townsville, to the Daintree north of Cairns – are UNESCO World Heritage listed, as they contain one of the oldest surviving tracts of rainforest anywhere on Earth. Whether this listing has benefited the region is questionable, however; logging has slowed, but the tourist industry has vigorously exploited the area’s status as an untouched wilderness, constantly pushing for more development so that a greater number of visitors can be accommodated. The clearing of mangroves for a marina and resort at Cardwell is a worst-case example; Kuranda’s Skyrail was one of the few projects designed to lessen the ultimate impact (another highway – with more buses – was the alternative). Given the profits to be made, development is inevitable, but it’s sad that a scheme designed to promote the region’s unique beauty may accelerate its destruction.

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