His­toric rain­for­est han­dover

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - FRONT PAGE - Angelique Pat­ter­son

HIS­TORY was made yes­ter­day when tra­di­tional own­ers ded­i­cated 70,000 hectares of the Wet Trop­ics World Her­itage Area as the Eastern Kuku Yalanji In­dige­nous Pro­tected Area in an hist o r i c cer­e­mony a t Cape Tribu­la­tion.

Fed­eral En­vi­ron­ment Min­is­ter Tony Burke joined the tra­di­tional own­ers from the Kuku Nyungkal and Jalun­ji­warra clans at PK’s Jun­gle Vil­lage for the land ded­i­ca­tion.

To re­ceive the In­dige­nous Pro­tec­tion Area list­ing, tra­di­tional own­ers en­tered into an agree­ment with the Fed­eral Govern­ment to pro­mote bio­di­ver­sity and cul­tural re­source con­ser­va­tion.

Tra­di­tional own­ers from both clans gave in­put through­out the plan­ning process to de­velop cul­tural man­age­ment plans, which will also en­able them to man­age the IPA area.

Kuku Nyungkal and Jalun­ji­warra rangers helped de­velop the plans, con­ducted cul­tural her­itage sur­veys and im­ple­mented fire and pest man­age­ment plans, while also or­gan­is­ing an in­dige­nous ranger con­fer­ence and host­ing a cul- tu­ral camp for lo­cal school chil­dren.

Min­is­ter Burke said by ded­i­cat­ing coun­try to the Eastern Kuku Yalanji IPA, they are reaf­firm­ing their tra­di­tional re­spon­si­bil­ity to care for their coun­try.

‘‘They’re promis­ing to work with other clans and man­age­ment au­thor­i­ties to make sure fu­ture gen­er­a­tions will be able to walk un­der the Dain­tree’s awein­spir­ing rain­for­est canopy - just as I did this morn­ing,’’ he said.

‘‘The whole process lead­ing up to to­day has been an in­cred­i­ble piece of work, how much plan­ning, in­vest­ment and fam­ily sto­ries went into mak­ing the plan right for the land to sea coun­try.

‘‘Out of that process we got to­day two IPAs which will re­sult in bet­ter man­age­ment prin­ci­ples set out by the tra­di­tional own­ers.’’

One of the most se­nior tra­di­tional own­ers of the coun­try ded­i­cated to the IPA, For­est Creek lo­cal David Solomon from the Jalun­ji­warra clan, said it was the younger gen­er­a­tion, in­clud­ing his fam­ily, who made this hap­pen.

‘‘I am proud, I never thought I would see this hap­pen,’’ he said.

‘‘I was brought up with the old peo­ple, my mother and grand- mother were born here at Bai­ley’s Creek and that’s how I come from the na­tive ti­tle.’’

Ja­bal­bina Yalanji Cor­po­ra­tion chair Robyn Bel­lafquih, who is also from the Jalun­ji­warra clan, said the IPA will give tra­di­tional own­ers se­cu­rity they did not have with the na­tive ti­tle.

‘‘ This is a very spe­cial oc­ca­sion for us, with the IPA we will have more ca­pac­ity to man­age our own coun­try and in­cor­po­rate our tra­di­tional ways and pro­tect our cul­tural ways,’’ she said.

‘‘All the sea and land coun­try back to­gether un­der the IPA to help us bet­ter man­age it the way our an­ces­tors did.’’

Di­vi­sion 10 coun­cil­lor Ju­lia Leu said the move to an IPA was a huge achieve­ment for all in­volved.

‘‘It has been a long stand­ing pur­suit of our in­dige­nous com­mu­ni­ties and will give ev­ery­one a bet­ter un­der­stand­ing and re­spect for the very im­por­tant cul­tural and her­itage val­ues,’’ she said.

Both clans in­tend to de­velop sus­tain­able busi­nesses such as a health re­treat, eco- cul­tural tourism and see the IPA as a step­ping stone to se­cur­ing eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties.


DE­LIGHTED: tra­di­tional el­der Dave Solomon with grand­chil­dren Ne­ola, In­di­anna, Ro­han, Kulki and Mar­jorie

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