Sydney, Australia, Sep 29 (EFE).- Australian authorities returned Daintree National Park, the world’s oldest tropical rainforest and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, to its traditional owners under an agreement announced Wednesday.
“More than 160,000 hectares of land in Cape York has been handed back to the Eastern Kuku Yalanji people in a historic announcement today by the Palaszczuk government and traditional owners,” the government said in a statement.
The Daintree, home to the indigenous inhabitants for more than 60,000 years, “will now be jointly-managed by the Eastern Kuku Yalanji people and Queensland government” along with the Ngalba-bulal, Kalkajaka and the Hope Islands national parks, it added.
“These national parks will protect important Aboriginal cultural sites, diverse ecosystems including rainforests, woodlands, wetlands and mangroves, and form part of the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area which is recognized as the second most irreplaceable world heritage site on Earth,” Environment Minister Meaghan Scanlon said in the statement.
Scanlon said Australia has an uncomfortable and ugly shared past in this country and the handback was an important step on the path towards reconciliation.
“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 leaders in the tourism industry,” she added.
Eastern Kuku Yalanji Traditional Owners Negotiating Committee Member Chrissy Grant described the handover of Daintree along with the other three parks to its traditional owners as a “significant historic event” in order to “realize our vision for a more promising future for all our people.”
To date, the Queensland government has returned more than 38,000 square kilometers (14,672 square miles) of land to the traditional owners of Cape York, out of which some 23,000 square kilometers are jointly managed. EFE