2021-09-29 18:18:34 Daintree Forest in Australia Is Returned to Indigenous Owners

Daintree Forest in Australia Is Returned to Indigenous Owners

The Daintree Rainforest in Australia, a world-famous travel destination and one of the world’s oldest forests at an estimated 180 million years old, was one of four national parks returned to their traditional owners on Wednesday under an agreement signed with the Queensland state government.

The Eastern Kuku Yalanji Aboriginal people, who are thought to have lived in the area for more than 50,000 years, were given nearly 400,000 acres of land in northeast Australia, complete with dense forests, sprawling mountain ranges, and white sand beaches.

“The Eastern Kuku Yalanji people’s culture is one of the world’s oldest living cultures, and this agreement recognizes their right to own and manage their country, to protect their culture, and to share it with visitors as they become tourism leaders,” Queensland environment minister Meaghan Scanlon said in a statement.

In addition to the Daintree National Park, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site, the Eastern Kuku Yalanji people and the Queensland government will jointly manage the Ngalba-bulal, Kalkajaka, and Hope Islands National Parks. According to the government, the parks will “eventually be solely and entirely managed by the Eastern Kuku Yalanji” people.

Ms. Scanlon acknowledged the “uncomfortable and ugly shared past” in relations with Aboriginal people in the country as the government handed over the land, and called the agreement “a key step on the path towards reconciliation.”

Australia is still engaged in a long-term struggle to right the wrongs of the past — and, by many accounts, the present — as it continues to deny Indigenous people their rights and subject them to discrimination. (Those who are Aboriginal or from the Torres Strait Islands are considered Indigenous Australians.)

The agreement, according to the government, would also include the establishment of a new nature refuge, as well as the authorization of money to be provided annually and in perpetuity to help manage the parks.

In a statement, Chrissy Grant, a representative of the Eastern Kuku Yalanji people, stated that the goal was to establish a foundation to provide opportunities for their people in “a wide range of skilled trades, land and sea management, hospitality, tourism, and research so that we are in control of our own destinies.”

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Daintree Forest in Australia Is Returned to Indigenous Owners