The Australian Conservation Foundation has welcomed news of a deal between the Western Australian Government, Rio Tinto and Alcoa that may lead to the declaration of a new national park in the Kimberley and reminded authorities to work closely with the area’s Traditional Owners in designing the new park.
The companies have decided to scrap a 44-year-old arrangement to mine bauxite and build an alumina refinery in the north Kimberley.
The WA Government has said it plans to establish an ‘interconnected marine and national park’ across almost five million hectares the Kimberley.
“I would like to congratulate the WA Government and Rio Tinto and Alcoa for this contribution to the long-term conservation of the magnificent Kimberley,” said ACF’s CEO Kelly O’Shanassy.
“This deal could lead to Australia’s largest national park, protecting an area that contains 40,000-year-old Indigenous rock art, unique flora and fauna and the spectacular Mitchell Falls.
“We are encouraged by the State Government’s statement that it will work with the traditional owners in the area, the Dambimangari, Wunambal-Gaambera and Wilinggin, to create and jointly manage the proposed national park.
“The idea of a new national part has not yet received formal consent from the Traditional Owner groups in the area – we urge the Government to liaise thoroughly with these groups.
“I commend the Government and the companies for their cooperation coming to this agreement.
“There’s a long way to go before a new Kimberley National Park can be declared.
“ACF urges discussions between the State and the Traditional Owner groups on joint management plans for the proposed park so the park is managed successfully.”
The areas on the Mitchell Plateau are already National Heritage listed as part of the West Kimberley National Heritage listing of November 2011.