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World Heritage Rainforest

Wet Tropics

The Wet Tropics of Queensland World Heritage Area is 894 450 ha stretching along the northern Queensland coast and hinterland, original inscribed in 1988. The area is particularly unusual because of its extensive connection of rainforest with coral reef, a situation rare throughout the world1

The Wet Tropics rainforest is the most diverse of all Australian rainforests, hosting primitive and more recently evolved species. Of particular importance is their diversity of Proteace species, a family associated more often with dry schelorphyll vegetation types. Diversity has been triggered by the mixing of Gondwanan and Indo-Malaysian ancestors alongside strong environmental gradients leading to one of the highest levels of endemism per unit area in the world1, 2.


Gondwana Rainforests (previously known as the Central Eastern Rainforest Reserves of Australia, CERRA) stretches from Barrington Tops in New South Wales to Main Range in Queensland, incorporating 50 reserves over approximately 1000 km. The region was originally listed in 1986 and extended in 1994.

It is the most extensive transect of subtropical rainforest in the world, and contains nearly all known sites of Antarctic Beech (Nothofagus moorei) rainforest. Unique geological features such as volcanic shields and escarpments have led to a high degree of diversification, and although the area only represents 0.3% of the Australian landmass, it contains plants from half of all recognised Australian families3


The Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area is approximately 1.6 million ha including 306 000 ha of rainforest. The region was initially inscribed in 1982 and then extended in 1989, 2010, 2012 and 20134, 5

The broader World Heritage Area represents one of the largest intact wilderness areas in the southern hemisphere and claims some of the longest lived and tallest flowering plants. Further value is placed in the anthropological record of human activity in the area dating back to the last glacial period, indicating it was the southernmost point for human survival during this time. 

Similar to the Gondwana rainforest of mainland Australia, Tasmania contains one of the world’s largest regions of cool temperate Nothofagus rainforests (N. cunninghamii). Tasmanian rainforest is rich in bryophytes, lichen, amphibians, birds and insects. Diversity amoung species and ecosystems has been fostered by the evolving geological landscape which is recognised amongst the oldest in the world 4, 5
  1.  Department of the Environment and Energy (no date) World Heritage Places – Wet Tropics of Queensland. Canberra. Accessed 1st September 2017. 
  2. UNESCO (2017) World Heritage Center – Wet Tropics of Queensland. Accessed 29th August 2017.
  3.  Department of the Environment and Energy (no date) World Heritage Places – Gondwana Rainforests of Australia. Canberra. Accessed 1st September 2017. 
  4. Balmer, J., Whinam, J., Kelman, J., Kirkpatrick, J., Lazarus, E (2004) A review of the florisitic values of the Tasmanian Wilderness Wold Heritage Area. Nature Conservation Report 2004/3. Department of Primary Industries Water and Environment, Tasmania, Australia. 
  5. Department of the Environment and Energy (no date) World Heritage Places – Tasmania Wilderness. Canberra. Accessed 31st August 2017.