The role of the wet tropics world heritage area in the life of the community.
The Wet Tropics World Heritage Area (WTWHA) experiences an estimated 4.4 million visits each year, and forty percent or 1.76 million of those visits are made by residents of the adjacent local communities. It is the residents of these communities that were the focus of both a community survey and visitor site-level survey that were undertaken by Rainforest CRC researchers for the Wet Tropics Management Authority (WTMA) in late 2002 and early 2003. The community survey examined the local community's awareness, perceptions, attitudes, and personal appraisals of the WTWHA, the WTMA and other management agencies, and also explored and documented the role of the WTWHA in the life of the community. An important aim of the site-level survey was to record local community residents' (as well as domestic and overseas visitors') perceptions and appraisals of the WTWHA, in situ, while residents were actually visiting or 'using' a World Heritage site. Data collection resulted in a thorough understanding of how individuals' behaviour translates into biophysical impacts and how specific environments or features impact on individuals' experiences, attitudes and judgments. Both surveys were designed to complement previous and ongoing site-based and community survey undertakings involving longitudinal monitoring and indicator development, and the impacts of visitation and use in the WTWHA and catchment region.