A Framework for the Identification of Linked Socio-Cultural and Biophysical Indicators for the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area

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The Wet Tropics World Heritage Area (WTWHA) in Far North Queensland is one of the world’s hotspots of rainforest biodiversity and is an area rich in cultural heritage, with surrounding landscapes important nationally for agriculture and tourism. Like many globally important UNESCO sites, the area is currently experiencing unprecedented rates of population growth and urbanisation hence efficient and effective management action is required to maintain the area’s ecological, cultural and economic values. One of the aims of the Commonwealth Government funded Marine and Tropical Sciences Research Facility, is to develop a monitoring programme for biodiversity which will include critical indicators of ecosystem health and thresholds of concern to trigger management action. However, a major scientific challenge remains to identify critical indicators and thresholds of concern for the cultural status of both indigenous and non-indigenous local human communities, who inherently form a part of the ecosystem. An additional challenge lies in linking these cultural indicators to ecosystem health. This paper outlines a framework for the identification and testing of cultural indicators and subsequent identification of indicator linkages with ecosystem health. Once developed, it is considered that the framework and a consequent monitoring protocol will be appropriate for use within the WTWHA and will be applicable to other protected areas worldwide.


Keywords: Cultural Heritage, Wet Tropics, World Heritage Area, Indicators, Thresholds of Concern, Framework, Monitoring
Stream: Cultural Sustainability
Presentation Type: Virtual Presentation in English
Paper: Framework for the Identification of Linked Cultural and Biophysical Indicators for the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area


Dr. Leanne Claire Cullen-Unsworth

Post Doctoral Fellow, Sustainable Ecosystems, CSIRO
Cairns, Queensland, Australia

Leanne is currently working as an Environmental Scientist with CSIRO developing linked socio-cultural and biophysical indicators for the Queensland Wet Tropics World Heritage Area. Her PhD research looked at the direct economic value of natural marine resources to local dependants; resource use patterns; alternative livelihoods; and developed of a series of economic performance criteria to monitor the local economic impacts of management/non-management within a small island community living in a marine national park in Indonesia. Leanne has an MSc in Marine Environmental Protection (2000-2001) from the University of Wales, Bangor and BSc (honours) in Marine Biology from the University of Newcastle upon Tyne (1997-2000).

Dr. James R A Butler

Sustainable Ecosystems, CSIRO
Cairns, Queensland, Australia


Dr. Rosemary Hill

Sustainable Ecosystems, CSIRO
Cairns, Queensland, Australia


Dr. Chris R Margules

Affiliation not supplied
Atherton, Queensland, Australia


Ref: S08P0142