IPA takes another step closer to reality
THE declared Eastern Kuku Yalanji Indigenous Protected Area is a step closer in achieving the ultimate goal for traditional owners to manage and maintain their own country.
The dedication of land ceremony held last week in Cape Tribulation was acknowledgment of years of negotiations and planning to produce an IPA for the Julunjiwarra and Kuku Nyungkal people while the IPA for the Yalanji people is still being completed.
The move to an IPA started with the determination of native title in 2007, which included 17 Indigenous Land Use Agreements (ILUA), with different areas being maintained by different levels of government.
Jabalbina Yalanji Aboriginal Corporation planning and development coordinator Rowan Shee said the main issues raised by Yalanji people was that the ILUA, as part of the native title, divided the country up into different zones, which is not how Yalanji perceive their land. Of that land, 75 per cent was national parks, maintained by the State Government.
‘‘Because of the different agencies maintaining the different areas, traditional owners were on the back foot of being consulted with no say on what to do with our country and our aspirations,’’ Mr Shee said.
‘‘The IPA manages the country all together incorporating cultural and natural values which cannot be separated for Yalanji.
‘‘Traditional knowledge and sacred sites is just as much a priority as particular plant species.’’
The IPA gives an opportunity for traditional owners to work with different land managers such as National Parks and councils to organise cooperative management arrangements.
A focus on conservation also features in the IPA with a new ranger base being organised in Wujal Wujal community to help tackle threats such a feral animals and weeds.
‘‘One thing people identified as a threat is not being on country - resources haven’t been there for Yalanji people to move in and build up the management component and ranger component and the IPA is fulfilling these aspirations,’’ Mr Shee said.
‘‘Most of the IPA is actually sea country, our capacity is working on land but we are going to get a boat and accreditation because it is an aspiration of Yalanji people to manage sea country.’’
Jabalbina Ranger coordinator Pat Minniecon said the ranger program to be based in Wujal Wujal will have representatives from the three different dialect groups of the Eastern Kuku Yalanji.
‘‘The next step is we would like to see full management for Aboriginal people and this takes us one step closer to our ultimate goal for Aboriginal people to manage Aboriginal land,’’ he said.
Mr Minniecon said the IPA has raised the level of importance of cultural values and interests in the management of the natural resources.
‘‘Now we can look at protecting the cultural heritage of Yalanji people, culturally significant sites such as rattlesnake site, Snapper Island, there are Dreamtime stories throughout this country,’’ he said.
The vision is to eventually have rangers located throughout the Eastern Kuku Yalanji land and develop ways to store culturally significant and historical facts and artefacts.
MAKING PROGRESS: The Eastern Kuku Yalangi Indigenous Protection Areas