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Location Australia, Queensland
Central coordinates 145o 58.99' East  17o 30.91' South
IBA criteria A1, A2, A3
Area 52,129 ha
Altitude 0 - 860m
Year of IBA assessment 2009

BirdLife Australia

Summary The IBA supports significant numbers of the globally vulnerable Sounthern Cassowary. It also supports nine of the 17 Queensland Wet Tropics restricted-range species.

Site description The Wet Tropic lowlands IBA is situated along the tropical east coast of northern Queensland. The boundary follows the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area which includes areas that are used by the defence department, are aboriginal freehold, unallocated state land and small reserves. It encompasses cassowary habitat including the Mission Beach area, which is considered by some to be the most significant area of cassowary habitat in the Wet Tropics. The climate is monsoonal with a pronounced wet season and a dry season moderated by moist trade winds. Lowland areas within the IBA encompass small areas of un-modified forested floodplain, while the majority of the IBA is made up of low hills and ranges. Native vegetation is predominantly tropical rainforest, with smaller areas of open eucalypt and paperbark forests, wetlands and mangroves.

Key Biodiversity The Coastal Wet Tropics IBA contains a wide range of lowland rainforest bird species, including the rare subspecies Rufous Owl subspecies queenslandica. Other habitats include extensive remote beaches, which support Beach Stone-curlew, and some small but well-populated freshwater wetlands, such as at Eubenangee National Park. The rainforest avifauna is complemented by a range of species, such as the near threatened Bush Stone-curlew and biome-restricted Yellow Honeyeater, that occur only in the mosaic of eucalypt and meleleuca woodlands which are present in patches with poorer soil or drainage or where there has been a history of fire.

Non-bird biodiversity: The Coastal Wet Tropics IBA contains populations of two species of endangered frog, Common Mistfrog and Lace-eyed Tree Frog, while the southern extent of the IBA encompasses a significant area of habitat for the Mahogany Glider. The area also contains a number of threatened plant species and Regional Ecosystems. Given its location in the Wet Tropics, and the relative paucity of survey information available for many of the forested areas, other significant fauna and flora values are almost certainly present within the IBA.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Southern Cassowary Casuarius casuarius resident  1988-2000  uncommon  A1  Vulnerable 
Yellow-spotted Honeyeater Meliphaga notata resident  1998-2008  common  A2  Least Concern 
Fernwren Oreoscopus gutturalis resident  1998-2008  uncommon  A2, A3  Least Concern 
Bower's Shrike-thrush Colluricincla boweri resident  1998-2008  rare  A2, A3  Least Concern 
Pale-yellow Robin Tregellasia capito resident  1998-2008  abundant  A2  Least Concern 

IBA Monitoring

2008 high not assessed not assessed
Good - based on reliable and complete / representative data

Invasive and other problematic species and genes invasive non-native/alien species/diseases - unspecified species happening now majority/most of area/population (50-90%) slow but significant deterioration high
Residential and commercial development tourism and recreation areas happening now majority/most of area/population (50-90%) no or imperceptible deterioration low

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
Cairns Marine Park 702,533 protected area overlaps with site 2,888  
Clump Mountain National Park 283 protected area contained by site 282  
Dallachy Creek Fish Habitat Area A 1,723 protected area overlaps with site 1,342  
Edmund Kennedy National Park 10,800 protected area overlaps with site 8,280  
Ella Bay National Park 3,710 protected area contained by site 3,710  
Eubenangee Swamp National Park 1,900 protected area overlaps with site 1,720  
Glen Idle Nature Refuge Other Conservation Area 60 protected area overlaps with site 9  
Graham Range Forest Park Forest Reserve 193 protected area contained by site 193  
Grey Peaks National Park 1,083 protected area contained by site 920  
Hull River Fish Habitat Area A 1,507 protected area overlaps with site 1,138  
Hull River National Park 3,687 protected area contained by site 3,240  
Kurrimine Beach National Park 910 protected area contained by site 910  
Malbon Thompson Forest Reserve 5,935 protected area contained by site 5,935  
Maria Creek National Park 749 protected area contained by site 749  
Moresby Range National Park 616 protected area overlaps with site 292  
Mount Mackay National Park 3,680 protected area contained by site 3,680  
Russell River National Park 5,050 protected area overlaps with site 3,921  
Tam OShanter National Park 4,123 protected area contained by site 4,123  
Trinity Forest Reserve 2,244 protected area contained by site 2,244  
Wet Tropics of Queensland World Heritage Site 894,420 protected area overlaps with site 37,635  
Wreck Creek Fish Habitat Area A 1,260 protected area overlaps with site 785  


IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Forest Melaleuca forests & woodlands; Rainforest & vine thickets  85%
Coastline Mangrove wetlands  5%
Savanna Tropical eucalypt woodlands & grasslands  10%

Land ownership Queensland State Government - Parks and Wildlife, Aboriginal land and the Department of Defence.

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
nature conservation and research major
military minor
other minor
Notes: Indigenous

Protection status Numerous - see separate listing.

Acknowledgements Thanks to Alastair Freeman for compiling the nomination.

References Crome, F.H.J. and Moore, L.A. (1990) Cassowaries in north-eastern Queensland: report of a survey and a review and assessment of their status and conservation management needs. Australian Wildlife Research 17: 369-385.

Garnett, S.T. and Crowley, G. (2000) The action plan for Australian birds. Environment Australia: Canberra.

Goosem, S. (2000) Renomination of the cassowary on the Commonwealth Endangered Species Schedule. Queensland Government Printer: Brisbane.

Moore, L.A. (2007) Population ecology of the southern cassowary Casuarius casuarius johnsonii, Mission Beach north Queensland. Journal of Ornithology 148: 357-366.

Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service (2002) Recovery plan for the southern cassowary Casuarius casuarius johnsonii 2001-2005. (Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service, Brisbane).

Sattler, P. and Williams, R. (1999) The conservation status of Queensland's bioregional ecosystems. (Environmental Protection Agency, Brisbane).

Stanton,P. and Stanton, D. (2005) 'Vegetation mapping of the Wet tropics. Wet Tropics Management Authority, Cairns. Australia.

Stocker, G.C. and Irvine, A.K. (1983) Seed dispersal by cassowaries (Casuarius casuarius) in North Queensland's rainforests. Biotropica 15, 170-176.

Wet Tropics Management Authority(1996) Wet Tropics in profile. Reference guide to the Wet Tropics of Queensland World Heritage Area. (Wet Tropics Management Authority, Cairns).

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2015) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Coastal Wet Tropics. Downloaded from on 25/04/2015

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