Historic rainforest handover
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