A “Save the Daintree, Again” campaign is being launched by a coalition of local and national conservation groups who see the push for a bridge over the Daintree River, coastal road upgrade and reticulated electricity as a threat to the areas’ Outstanding Universal Values, the foundation of its World Heritage Listing.
[According to UNESCO (United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organisation) “’Outstanding Universal Value’ means cultural and/or natural significance which is so exceptional as to transcend national boundaries and to be of common importance for present and future generations of all humanity.”]
The bridge is part of a broader push primarily by local Federal member Warren Entsch, Cook Shire Council and local vested interests to build a main road to Cooktown along the coast and through the Daintree rainforest, and to install an electricity grid in the rainforest.
We are similarly appalled that the local Council:
- “Has prepared an options paper that looks only at the cost of the cheapest possible low-level bridge with no environmental, economic or social impact assessment and no overall cost benefit analysis
- “Is restricting consultation and ignoring wider state, national and global views about the future of our World Heritage site
- “Seems to have no appreciation that visitors, on whom 80% of Douglas Shire’s economy depends, want conservation not development and urbanisation.”
“A second round of the Bloomfield Road Blockade, that led to World Heritage listing in the 80’s, needs to be seriously considered,” he said.
A coalition of conservation groups wrote to the Federal Government last week expressing concern that the combination of a bridge, road upgrades and grid electricity will lead to an “In Danger” listing of the entire Wet Tropics World Heritage Area.
[A World Heritage “In Danger” listing from UNESCO is designed to inform the international community of conditions which threaten the very characteristics for which a property was inscribed on the World Heritage List, and to encourage corrective action.]
A copy of the letter has also been sent to the State Government.
The Federal Government has a statutory responsibility to conserve and present World Heritage sites. Consequently, the letter asks that a Daintree Coast Conservation Plan be developed as a matter of urgency to ensure that Government investment prioritises conservation over development.
“We are yet to receive a reply”, McDonald said.
Over 25,000 people have already signed a “Save the Daintree, Again” petition.
Mr McDonald continued: “By trashing the environment, the local Council is doing the same to the tourism industry.
“The conservation sector in Douglas has always supported tourism. Both sectors share the values of the stunning environment which is Douglas. ….
In Douglas, the Environment is the Economy.
“How can the local Council ignore the views of the rest of Australia and the world, when we are dealing with a World Heritage Area?
“How can the new Council legitimately continue to claim to be the world’s first ‘Ecotourism-Accredited Destination’ founded on the last 30 years of a pro-conservation Council and industry partnership?” Mr McDonald said.