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, Muundhi and Magarmagar people of south-east Cape York Peninsula on the historic return of 36,710 hectares of their traditional country 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 16,490 hectareNgaynggarr National Park (Cape York Peninsula Aboriginal Land), as well as the return of 20,220 hectares as Aboriginal freehold land.

The new Ngaynggarr National Park will be jointly managed by the Balnggarrawarra Aboriginal Corporation and the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service.

The new National Park will protect important Aboriginal cultural sites and diverse and significant ecosystems including rainforests, heathlands, wetlands and woodlands, the regionally endemic scarlet gum, and the endangered Large-eared Horseshoe bat among other species.

“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.”

“The Cape York tenure resolution process, has been one of the most successful land use planning and conservation initiatives in Australia, and it has also delivered extensive areas back to Aboriginal ownership.”  

To date, 3.4 million hectares of Cape York Peninsula has been returned to Aboriginal ownership under this process of which, 1.9 million hectares have become jointly managed and Aboriginal owned national parks across the region.

Ngaynggarr National Park (CYPAL) is the 23rd Aboriginal owned national park on Cape York Peninsula.

 

James Norman

James Norman is a writer and media adviser for the Australian Conservation Foundation