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Managing a World Heritage Site in the Face of Climate Change: A Case Study of the Wet Tropics in Northern Queensland

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Wet Tropics Management Authority, Cairns, QLD 4870, Australia
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School of Environment and Science, Griffith University, Nathan, QLD 4111, Australia
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Rainforest Aboriginal Peoples’ Strategic Custodial Think Tank, Cairns, QLD 4870, Australia
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BioCultural Consulting P/L, Maroochydore, QLD 4558, Australia
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University of South Australia, Adelaide, SA 5000, Australia
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Tropical Forests and People Research Centre, University of the Sunshine Coast, Maroochydore DC, QLD 4558, Australia
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Central Queensland University, Cairns, QLD 4870, Australia
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Climate Change Working Group, Australian World Heritage Advisory Committee, Australian Government, Canberra, ACT 2601, Australia
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Great Barrier Reef Foundation, 300 Ann Street, Brisbane, QLD 4000, Australia
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Fenner School of Environment and Society, The Australian National University, Canberra, ACT 2601, Australia
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James Hutton Institute, Aberdeen AB15 8QH, UK
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Central Queensland University, Townsville, QLD 4810, Australia
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Land & Water, CSIRO, Townsville, QLD 4810, Australia
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Protected Places Mission, NESP2, Reef and Rainforest Research Centre, Cairns, QLD 4870, Australia
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Lincoln University, Lincoln 7647, Canterbury, New Zealand
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Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Terri Schulz and Timothy Kittel
Earth 2021, 2(2), 248-271; https://doi.org/10.3390/earth2020015
Received: 12 April 2021 / Revised: 26 May 2021 / Accepted: 27 May 2021 / Published: 1 June 2021
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Climate System Uncertainty and Biodiversity Conservation)
World Heritage is the pinnacle of the recognition of the natural, aesthetic, and cultural value of a place on the planet. Since its inception in 1972, over 1100 sites have received World Heritage status. Many of these places are being challenged by the effects of climate change. Urgent action is needed to build the resilience and adaptive capacity of World Heritage sites in the face of climate change threats to come. The Wet Tropics of Queensland World Heritage Area (WTWHA) is one of the most effectively regulated and managed protected Areas in the world. This includes the scientific evidence upon which that regulation and management is based. However, there is growing evidence that climate change impacts are a clear and present threat to the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) upon which the listing is based. This challenges the very concept of OUV and points to the business-as-usual regulation and management not being sufficient to deal with the threat. It also calls for quantum changes in the approaches to protecting natural and cultural heritage and the OUV in World Heritage Areas. This WTWHA case study gives insights into the journey travelled and the pathways that need to be laid out to protect our most cherished internationally recognised natural and cultural landscapes. We demonstrate the importance of evidence in support of advocacy and management action to address the clear impacts of climate change on species, ecosystems, people, and societies living in the WTWHA. The strategic and climate adaptation plans provide the framework upon which these actions take place. Community engagement in the delivery of mitigation, adaptation, and resilience policy is key to the long-term future of the WTWHA. View Full-Text
Keywords: World Heritage; Wet Tropics; climate change; adaptation; impacts; cultural values; Outstanding Universal Values; OUV; resilience World Heritage; Wet Tropics; climate change; adaptation; impacts; cultural values; Outstanding Universal Values; OUV; resilience
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MDPI and ACS Style

Weber, E.T.; Catterall, C.P.; Locke, J.; Ota, L.S.; Prideaux, B.; Shirreffs, L.; Talbot, L.; Gordon, I.J. Managing a World Heritage Site in the Face of Climate Change: A Case Study of the Wet Tropics in Northern Queensland. Earth 2021, 2, 248-271. https://doi.org/10.3390/earth2020015

AMA Style

Weber ET, Catterall CP, Locke J, Ota LS, Prideaux B, Shirreffs L, Talbot L, Gordon IJ. Managing a World Heritage Site in the Face of Climate Change: A Case Study of the Wet Tropics in Northern Queensland. Earth. 2021; 2(2):248-271. https://doi.org/10.3390/earth2020015

Chicago/Turabian Style

Weber, Ellen T., Carla P. Catterall, John Locke, Liz S. Ota, Bruce Prideaux, Leslie Shirreffs, Leah Talbot, and Iain J. Gordon 2021. "Managing a World Heritage Site in the Face of Climate Change: A Case Study of the Wet Tropics in Northern Queensland" Earth 2, no. 2: 248-271. https://doi.org/10.3390/earth2020015

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