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The Wet Tropics is only a tiny fragment of the Australian landmass but it is of exceptional biological and human value. It is a productive region of great beauty containing unique refugial rainforest dating back to Gondwanaland. Much of the forest not cleared for agriculture and towns is now in a World Heritage Area.
This book traces the evolution of human values, attitudes, uses and public policies affecting the Wet Tropics - from exploitative frontier attitudes and policies to longer term rational policies to protective conservation. The Wet Tropics, in miniature reflects Australian attitudes to natural resources management and illustrates periods of "policy succession" as Australians came to terms with their environment and resources.
The book is organised in historical sequence to the present explaining the distinct phases of human values and use of the Wet Tropics. It traces Aboriginal occupation and use; the early timber-getters and settlers clearing the scrub for farming; the critical, courageous and far-sighted early steps in conservation and reservation in the early 20th century, multiple use management and the timber industry through to World Heritage listing and emerging debates about the impacts of tourism. It gives most attention to the political upheaval and impacts associated with World Heritage listing and the social, legal and management consequences.
Most of the authors of this edited volume were involved in decisions or management of the Wet Tropics - including regional forests managers prior to the World Heritage period, those involved in establishing the WHA and those responsible for current management and planning.