The Lowland Tropical Rainforests of the Wet Tropics region, which includes the Daintree Lowland Rainforest has been declared Endangered and is now included in Australia’s Environment Protection and Biodiversity Act.
Flame tree (Brachychiton acerifolius) in the Daintree Lowland Rainforest. Picture by Steven Nowakowski
The Australian Government's Minister for the Environment, the Hon Sussan Ley, made the decision to list the lowland tropical rainforest of the Wet Tropics ecological community, in the Endangered Category under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999. The listing is effective as of Friday 26 November 2021 and includes the Wet Tropics of North Queensland, from near Ingham (just south of the Cardwell Range) in the south to north around Cape Tribulation.
Now listed as Endangered the Daintree Lowland Rainforest is still not fully protected. A subdivision created in 1982 created 1,136 freehold properties. Some of these properties are at risk from rural residential development.
About the EPBC Act
The Environment Protection and Biodiversity Act (1999), also known as the EPBC is Australia’s central piece of environmental legislation. It provides a legal framework for the protection and management of important plants, animals, and ecological communities. These are all defined in the Act, alongside heritage places, as matters of national environmental significance.
National listing of this lowland tropical rainforest ecological community helps highlight the unique plants, animals, and landscape values associated with the whole of the Wet Tropics as well as the Daintree and will therefore lead to more opportunities to manage threats and restore these values.
More than 1,700 species of plants, animals, and ecological communities are listed as threatened under the EPBC Act. They’re categorised under conservation dependent, vulnerable, endangered, critically endangered, extinct in the wild, and extinct.
Some of Australia’s most iconic species are on the list, including, in the Daintree, the Southern Cassowary, Bennett’s Tree-kangaroo, and Musky-rat Kangaroo.
Bennetts Tree-kangaroo. Picture by David White
Conservation Advice Lowland Tropical Rainforest of the Wet Tropics
In considering an item for inclusion in the EPBC Act, scientists create a Conservation Advice. That Advice is a statutory document and for the Lowland Tropical Rainforest of the Wet Tropics, the document lists both key threatening processes and priority conservation and research actions.
The Conservation Advice prepared for the Wet Tropics’ Lowland Tropical Rainforest has identified key processes that may threaten the survival, abundance of evolutionary development of this ecological community. The list includes land clearance, weed invasions and climate change, amongst others.
We already know that the Daintree Lowland Rainforest is at threat from residential development. We are seeing blocks in the Daintree being cleared for housing at an alarming rate. Last year we engaged ecologist Wren McLean to develop an acquisition strategy for Rainforest 4 Foundation focussed on saving the remaining freehold blocks in the Daintree from development. Our plan is to work with donors in Australia and abroad to raise the funds to purchase and protect these blocks forever.
Through our Stronger Together project we work in partnership with HalfCut to engage donors to raise funds to secure the land, and then eventually return the blocks to their Traditional Owners - the Eastern Kuku Yalanji people.
Clearing in the Daintree Lowland Rainforest for housing development
Management actions for the Lowland Tropical Rainforests of the Wet Tropics
The management actions listed in the Conservation Advice support the conservation strategy of the Rainforest 4 Foundation. Those management actions include conserving remaining patches, including protecting mature trees, supporting natural regeneration, protecting patches identified as wildlife refuges, and preventing and avoiding further clearance, fragmentation, or detrimental modifications of remnants of the ecological community. Preventing the spread of weeds, working with Traditional Owners, and undertaking restoration are also listed as management actions.
While this listing should offer greater protection to the Daintree Lowland Rainforest, we’ve never sat back and waited for governments to do the right thing when it comes to nature conservation.
That’s why we’ve engaged thousands of everyday people to donate to Save The Daintree Rainforest. We’ve now protected 18 freehold blocks by purchasing them. Some of those blocks were already approved for residential housing. All of them are home to threatened species like the Southern Cassowary.
We know the Daintree is worth protecting. We cannot afford to allow one more block of endangered lowland rainforest to fall into the hands of those who would clear the world’s oldest rainforest.
The project to purchase and protect land in the Daintree Lowland Rainforest is a partnership involving the Rainforest 4 Foundation, Jabalbina Yalanji Aboriginal Corporation, and fellow non-profit HalfCut.
Please make a donation to purchase and protect the next property in the Daintree Lowland Rainforest.
Freehold land in the Daintree is at risk from develpment.
Buyback of land is protecting the Daintree Lowland Rainforest which is now listed as Endangered under Environment Protection and Biodiversity Act (1999)