The Daintree lowlands and surrounding Daintree National Park and World Heritage listed Wet Tropics are often talked about as one environment, but while they are dependent on each other, they are actually a collection of very localised ecosystems and communities, many of which are high in endemic plants and animals (species that exist only in the defined area).
There’s a good chance that you and your neighbours’ blocks contain the worlds' only known individuals of an entire species. Different ecosystems and landscapes mean there can be no 'one-size-fits-all' scenario. This section is intended as a guide to building an understanding of the conservation values and threats to your land, so that you can be the best steward you can be.
The challenges of living on the Daintree Coast are significant, and the breadth of prior experiences of those that do live here are diverse. We all agree though, that the more you understand the environment and your community, the more you will love this lifestyle, and the easier your transition will be.Every part of an ecosystem and landscape provides an essential service that maintains overall health. But the values we place on this landscape, our ‘conservation values’, face significant threats due to the way in which we manage the landscape, combined with a significant impact resulting from climate change..
There are many different vegetation communities in our area. Some of them are entirely unique. Most are threatened, under-represented in the National Reserve System (Australia’s network or protected areas) and poorly understood.
The Daintree Futures Study has divided the residential areas into nine precincts, defined by vegetation types.
- For an overview of biodiversity values and recommended management strategies specific to your area, see pages 46-71 of the Daintree Futures Study.
- Also check the vegetation types present on your property with the relevant Vegetation Map produced as part of the Daintree Futures Study, or use the Queensland Herbarium website to create a vegetation map of your block.
- You can also check to see if your property is an important area for cassowaries using the Daintree Futures Study Cassowary map and download a list of rare and threatened flora and fauna known to or likely to occur in the region from the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection.
- In the area there are also a number of locals with a deep knowledge and understanding of the local flora and fauna. If you have a strong interest ask amongst your local community to get in touch.
- Each species and vegetation community plays a role in the functioning of the ecosystem, even though we might not yet fully understand this role.
New to the Tropics?
If you’re new to the tropics you will soon find out it's about more than just rain.
To begin with, there are a few plants and animals you need to know about, though the general rule with wildlife is if you respect it, it will respect you.
- If the water is warm, murky or tidal it will have estuarine crocodiles in it – don’t go in or near the water.
- Most snakes in the region are non-venomous, and 60% of snakebites occur when people are trying to kill them. If a snake comes into the house, gently try to encourage it to leave, or just stay out of its way until it finds its own way out. Seek assistance by getting in touch with a licensed snake catcher. They may charge as much as a couple of hundred dollars, depending on how local they are.
- Snakes will also come into the house to shed their skins - the best thing to do is let them finish and move on. Keep the skin as a memento.
- Rodents and pigs carry leptospirosis – this can be transmitted to humans through open wounds from mud contaminated with urine.
- Cassowaries and pigs do occasionally attack people, particularly when threatened. Stay out of their way where possible, and if you are with a dog, try to keep it calm.
- The stinging tree has large heart-shaped leaves covered in tiny hairs – it can be extremely uncomfortable for dogs, horses and humans. Remove the hairs with hair removal wax (yes, wax your legs!).
- Marine stingers are typically present from November to May though the season start and finish dates vary from year to year and will be announced in the newspaper and on the radio.
- Flying foxes and some other bats can be carriers of Hendra virus and Lyssavirus – both can be transmitted to humans (Hendra through horses) and are often fatal.
- The cultural heritage is extraordinarily rich here. Some cultural heritage sites, including burial grounds, are on privately owned land – contact Jabalbina to find out if your block is a known site, or organise a cultural values assessment of your property.
- Illnesses are different here – try to find a doctor with plenty of experience in tropical regions, if not locally.
- Keep an antiseptic cream in the medical kit and use it for even minor cuts or scratches.
Threats and Values
Every part of an ecosystem and landscape provides an essential service that maintains overall health. But the values we place on this landscape, our ‘conservation values’, face significant threats due to the way in which we manage the landscape, combined with a significant impact resulting from climate change..
Here are some general tips for any new residents:
- Get to know other locals and ask questions. There are two useful Facebook pages to visit to keep abreast of local events and issues. These are Cow Bay Community Chat and Cape Trib Community.
- Get to know the drainage lines – walk your property during and after heavy rain to see where the water flows in the natural environment, and how the built environment intercepts water flows. Erosion threatens the health of the waterways and the reef – it’s more likely to be a problem in cleared areas and on hills.
- Seasonal variations – if you can, live in your house for at least a year before making significant changes. Bad decisions are likely to be costly and unnecessarily damaging to the environment.
- Assess the strengths and weaknesses of your built environment
- Make sure you are maintaining your new toilet, power and water supply correctly – contact the manufacturer or installer for advice.
- Try to find ways of saving power to avoid unnecessary upgrades to your power supply – it can be easier than you think.
- Unique planning requirements reflect the unique nature of the environment – contact the Douglas Shire to see if you need a permit before making any changes to your property or infrastructure.