International Journal of Heritage Studies
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Australian humid tropical forests have been recognised as globally significant natural landscapes through world heritage listing since 1988. Aboriginal people have occupied these forests and shaped the biodiversity for at least 8000 years. The Wet Tropics Regional Agreement in 2005 committed governments and the region’s Rainforest Aboriginal peoples to work together for recognition of the Aboriginal cultural heritage associated with these forests. The resultant heritage nomination process empowered community efforts to reverse the loss of biocultural diversity. The conditions that enabled this empowerment included: Rainforest Aboriginal peoples’ governance of the process; their shaping of the heritage discourse to incorporate biocultural diversity; and their control of interaction with their knowledge systems to identify the links that have created the region’s biocultural diversity. We recommend further investigation of theory and practice in Indigenous governance of international heritage designations as a means to empower community efforts to reverse global biocultural diversity loss.