The Australian Conservation Foundation today welcomed the return of lands on Cape York Peninsula to Traditional Owners and the creation of Australia’s newest National Park.
ACF congratulates the Balnggarr, Binthi, Nhirrbanh, Wundal and Wunuurr people of south-east Cape York Peninsula on the historic return of 54,510 hectares of their traditional country north-west of Hope Vale and Cooktown.
Today’s declaration comes after lengthy negotiations between the Queensland Government and Cape York Traditional Owners resulting in the declaration of the new 29,310 hectare Biniirr National Park (Cape York Peninsula Aboriginal Land), as well as the return of 25,200 hectares to Aboriginal freehold land.
The new Biniirr National Park will be jointly managed by the Waarnthuurr-iin Aboriginal Corporation and the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service.
The new National Park will protect important Aboriginal cultural sites and protect diverse and significant ecosystems including rainforests, heathlands and woodlands, the regionally endemic scarlet gum, an undescribed species of grass-tree, habitat for the rare Brush-tailed phascogale and a number of rare plants.
“ACF strongly supports the Queensland Government’s commitment to returning land to Traditional Owners on Cape York and we welcome the great social, cultural, economic and environmental opportunities this process brings.”
“While national parks are vital for protecting ecosystems, the Cape York model of joint management can also deliver economic and employment opportunities for some of Australia’s most remote communities,” said ACF’s Northern Australia Program Officer Andrew Picone.
These handbacks have been made possible under the unique Cape York tenure resolution program which has enjoyed bipartisan support from successive Queensland Governments for more than 20 years.
To date, 3,225,000 hectares of Cape York Peninsula has been returned to Aboriginal ownership under this process of which, nearly two million hectares have become jointly managed and Aboriginal owned national parks.