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Wild rivers

A wild river declaration is a statutory document under the Wild Rivers Act.

A declaration sets out:

  • the extent of the declared wild river area and its various management
  • any caps on resources that can be taken in the declared wild river area (e.g. water)
  • any rules or limits that must be complied with when undertaking new development activities (such as quarrying, agriculture and mining) in the declared wild river area
  • any development assessment codes that must be applied, including any relevant parts of the Wild Rivers code (PDF, 752K)*.

Assessment processes for new development activities

The State Assessment and Referral Agency (SARA) planning reform comes into effect on the 1 July 2013. This reform has resulted in the establishment of a State Assessment and Referral Agency (SARA) and means that the chief executive of the Department of State Development, Infrastructure and Planning will become either the assessment manager or referral agency for all development applications where there is a state interest.

Matters of state interest for development assessment are set out in the State Development Assessment Provisions (SDAP). Any new development activities in a wild river area will be assessed against the relevant SDAP’s.

Further information on the SARA reform and SDAP’s can be found on the DSDIP website at 

SARA questions can be emailed to

Proposed revocation of Cape York and Western Rivers wild river declarations

The Department of Environment and Heritage Protection is proposing to revoke six wild river declarations across northern and western Queensland. These include:

  • Cooper Creek Basin Wild River Declaration 2011
  • Georgina and Diamantina Basins Wild River Declaration 2011
  • Wenlock Basin Wild River Declaration 2010
  • Archer Wild River Declaration 2009
  • Stewart Wild River Declaration 2009
  • Lockhart Wild River Declaration 2009

The proposed revocation of the Cooper Creek and Georgina and Diamantina basins wild river declarations is to fulfil a government commitment to develop alternative strategies to protect Queensland’s western rivers while still allowing sustainable development to proceed.

The alternative protection measures for the western rivers are being developed by the Minister for Natural Resources and Mines, who has commenced the process utilising a community representative group, the Western Rivers Advisory Panel, as the principal consultation mechanism. The core principles of the management framework that will replace the Wild Rivers declaration for the Lake Eyre Basin were announced on 31 July 2013.

Further information on the alternative protection strategies can be found at

The proposed revocation of the Lockhart, Archer, Stewart and Wenlock basins wild river declarations is occurring concurrently with preparation of the Cape York Regional Plan. These processes are to provide local communities greater control of their own economic future while ensuring iconic natural areas and areas of high conservation value are appropriately protected. Further information about the planning process can be found at

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Last updated
28 May 2014