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

By Leanne Claire Cullen-Unsworth, James R A Butler, Rosemary Hill and Chris R Margules.

Published by The Sustainability Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

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 of cooperative research for the generation of a series of linked biophysical and cultural indicators to facilitate the development of effective cooperative Natural Resource Management. Once composed, 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, Natural Resource Management, Monitoring

The International Journal of Environmental, Cultural, Economic and Social Sustainability, Volume 4, Issue 2, pp.37-46. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 785.654KB).

Dr. Leanne Claire Cullen-Unsworth

Post Doctoral Fellow, Sustainable Ecosystems, CSIRO Sustainable Ecosystems, 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 a series of economic performance criteria to monitor the local economic impacts of management/non-management within a small island community 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 Sustainable Ecosystems, Cairns, Queensland, Australia

Dr. Rosemary Hill

Sustainable Ecosystems, CSIRO Sustainable Ecosystems, Cairns, Queensland, Australia

Dr. Chris R Margules

CSIRO Sustainable Ecosystems, Atherton, Queensland, Australia


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