The Queensland Conservation Council, the Australian Conservation Foundation and the Cairns and Far North Environment Centre have welcomed the handback of the Daintree, Hope Islands, Ngalba Bulal and Black Mountain National Parks to the Eastern Kuku Yalanji Peoples.
This historic event will see a total of 160,108 hectares of land returned to Eastern Kuku Yalanji ownership. Under the hand-back arrangements, the Jabalbina Aboriginal Corporation will take ownership of the national parks, which will then be jointly managed with the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service.
The return of the Daintree, Ngalba Bulal and Kalkajaka (formerly Black Mountain) National Parks marks the first time that ownership of World Heritage-listed National Parks has been returned to First Nations people in Queensland.
Best way to protect area’s values
“The Daintree is globally significant and rich in living cultural heritage. Returning these parks to the Eastern Kuku Yalanji is the best way to protect the area’s natural and cultural values,” said the Queensland Conservation Council’s Andrew Picone.
“Returning the Daintree to the Eastern Kuku Yalanji People demonstrates the Palaszczuk government’s leadership in the growth and support of First Nations’ management of our protected area estate.”
Australian Conservation Foundation CEO, Kelly O’Shanassy, said First Nations peoples hold unique knowledge and rights inherited from their ancestors and have cared for the Daintree for thousands of years.
‘This is such an important moment’
“They are leaders in caring for country, which is fundamental to protecting nature in Australia.”
Lucy Graham, Director of the Cairns and Far North Environment Centre, added: “This is such an important moment for the World Heritage Area and we look forward to the Palaszczuk Government’s continued return of national parks to First Nations ownership and funding of their management.”
Since 1995, the Cape York land-tenure resolution process has returned approximately four-million hectares of land to Aboriginal ownership. This includes more than two million hectares of Aboriginal-owned and jointly managed national parks, and nearly two million hectares of Aboriginal freehold land.