Changes to protected areas deliver for Traditional Owners and community

The Palaszczuk Government is demonstrating its commitment to extending joint management opportunities with Traditional Owners and supporting local road safety projects with a motion agreed to by the Queensland Parliament today.

Minister for Environment Leeanne Enoch said that, since its election in 2015, the Palaszczuk Government has increased Queensland’s protected area estate by more than one million hectares.

“With State-managed protected areas that cover over 13 million hectares, occasionally it is necessary to revoke land for management purposes or to benefit Traditional Owners,” Minister Enoch said.

“One of these areas is Monkhouse Timber Reserve, about 50 kilometres south of Cooktown.”

While not extinguishing or affecting native title or native title rights and interests, the revocation of about 9.9 hectares from the reserve will allow the area to be dedicated as part of the existing Ngalba Bulal National Park.

The revocation of this section of the Timber Reserve will form part of the Palaszczuk Government’s commitment to hand back this land to its rightful Traditional Owners as part of the Cape York Peninsula Tenure Resolution Program.

“This is an important part of progressing the Eastern Kuku Yalanji land dealing to transfer lands including the Daintree, Ngalba Bulal, Black Mountain and Hope Islands national parks to jointly managed national park, (Cape York Peninsula Aboriginal land), covering an area of 160,000 acres.”

Minister Enoch said that the hand-back of this Timber Reserve land to Traditional Owners is scheduled for later this year pending the ability to conclude tenure negotiations with Eastern Kuku Yalanji representatives, given the current travel restrictions due to COVID-19.

“The whole Timber Reserve was included as part of the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area, thereby recognising the land as having an additional level of natural and cultural significance.

“Expanding partnerships and joint management opportunities with First Nations People is a priority of the Palaszczuk Government and with the success of this motion we extend the opportunity to further embed traditional knowledge into the management of one of the most naturally diverse areas in the world,” Ms Enoch said.

Member for Cook Cynthia Lui MP said that the transfer of land to First Nations people’s ownership and the establishment of joint management arrangements with the State showcases how this government continues to respect and acknowledge the traditional custodians of Cape York.

“The Tenure Program has delivered significant land ownership outcomes for Traditional Owners across the Cape with almost 3.7 million hectares of land now owned by Corporations and Land Trusts as a direct result of this program,” Ms Lui said.

“Importantly, First Nations peoples have an equal say about how to manage over 2.1 million hectares of national park.”

Small parcels of land in Kondalilla National Park and Duggan Conservation Park have also been revoked and were subject to appropriate compensation.

These road upgrades will require minimal vegetation removal but deliver significant road safety benefits to the Sunshine Coast and Hervey Bay regions.

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