Australia gives back national parks to indigenous tribes

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On September 29, the Queensland State Government, led by Prime Minister Annastacia Palaszczuk, ceded some 160,000 hectares (nearly 400,000 acres, roughly the size of Vermont’s Green Mountain National Forest) of land in Cape York, Australia’s northernmost peninsula, dates back to the eastern people of the Kuku Yalanji.

This territory includes four national parks: the UNESCO World Heritage Site Daintree, Ngalba-bulal, Kalkajaka and the Hope Islands National Parks, with a new natural refuge that is also expected to be created. Daintree National Park, the oldest tropical rainforest that still exists today (around 180 million years ago), along with the rest of the region, will be owned and co-managed by the indigenous people of East Kuku Yalanji. , which is said to have inhabited the region for over 50,000 years.

“The culture of the oriental people of Kuku Yalanji is one of the oldest living cultures in the world and this agreement recognizes their right to own and manage their country, to protect their culture and to share it with visitors as they become leaders in the tourism industry, ”said Queensland. Environment Minister Meaghan Scanlon in a statement Wednesday.

While the Queensland government will co-manage the national parks with the people of East Kuku Yalanji for the time being, it plans to hand over the reins entirely in the near future.

The Daintree rainforest, seen from the sky (Photo: Michael Cook – Altai World Photography via Getty)

“Our goal is to create a foundation to provide… mentorship, training, apprenticeships, work experience and employment for our eastern Kuku Yalanji Bama to fill positions in a wide range of skilled trades, land management and the sea, hotels, tourism and research. that we are in control of our own destiny, ”said Chrissy Grant, member of the Kuku Yalanji East Traditional Owners Negotiating Committee.

“This is truly revolutionary and shows that the Palaszczuk government is committed to reconciliation, treaties and righting the wrongs of past generations,” said Craig Crawford, Minister of Indigenous and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships.

This news comes at a time when outrage against the centuries of mistreatment of indigenous Australians is stronger than ever. In other countries, similar movements have pushed for the return of the land to its traditional stewards. With Deb Haaland recently confirmed as the U.S. Native American First Secretary of the Interior and that the Biden administration’s 30 × 30 vision (30% of U.S. land and oceans under conservation by 2030) is a priority for the White House, it remains to be seen whether the United States will heed its own ” countryside “ movement and take similar action.

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