DATE: 9 August 2017



The Palaszczuk government’s wise decision to block a proposed casino/hotel resort at Southport spit on the Gold Coast is encouraging to opponents of a similarly dubious project near Kuranda, Far North Queensland.

The case for decisive State intervention is perhaps even stronger in the Kuranda instance, in which absentee developer Macau-based Ken Lee proposes a gigantic mish-mash of development on land of internationally-significant environmental values.

Mr Lee’s mega-development proposal, known as ‘Kur-World’, has been touted as an ‘Eco-Resort’, but the developer has increasingly lost the trust of the local community through repeated breaches of environmental law including damage to the habitat of highly endangered species.

Most recently, Mr Lee submitted a Plan B to the local (Mareeba Shire) council. This is a blatant and undisguised subdivision proposal – a grab for fast profits by cutting one large rural estate into nearly 200 smaller blocks.

Subdivision of this ecologically significant land on the outskirts of Kuranda would destroy its value as a corridor for Cassowaries, the keystone species of the Wet Tropics. Effectively, it would allow the developer to cash in on the international reputation of Kuranda as a highly desirable, biodiverse and scenic location – as he helps degrade the very values on which that reputation is based.

As the next State election approaches, a mobilised Kuranda community will be calling for decisive state government action to protect Kuranda’s core values from inappropriate and speculative development.
In the late 1980’s when public lands at the heart of the Wet Tropics were declared World Heritage, boundary zones such as Kuranda and environs were never given the extra protection they deserve. To conserve the biodiversity of the Wet Tropics we must manage its surrounds with due care.

Kuranda residents overwhelmingly understand this and hope the State Government does too.

Distinguished Professor Bill Laurance – Director of the JCU Centre for Tropical Environmental and Sustainability Science spoke at a recent STOP KUR-World Fundraiser at the Kuranda Amphitheatre on 28 July.

Talking about the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area

“On the Australian continent, we’re talking about 1,000th of Australia’s continental land area. 

A major analysis which looked at the biogeographic and the biological uniqueness and irreplaceability of different ecosystems on the planet – this was over 173,000 different protected areas on the planet – ranked the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area as the 6th most critical and irreplaceable.

Of World Heritage Areas, it was the 2nd most critical and irreplaceable.  I think this gives you global perspective on what we’re talking about here.

Anybody, from anywhere on the planet, looking around would say this is absolutely critical biological and environmental real estate.

You would not want to risk it – from an International, from a global perspective – for lots of different reasons.”


Distinguished Professor Bill Laurance can be contacted for comment:

Phone +61 7 423 21819