Six rainforest properties in the Daintree lowlands, covered in ancient rainforest vegetation and critical habitat for endangered species, have been returned to their rightful owners – the Kuku Yalanji people.
Rainforest 4 Foundation, HalfCut, Jabalbina Yalanji Aboriginal Corporation, and guests recently gathered to recognise and celebrate the effort of everyone involved in the purchase, protection, and return of six properties in the Daintree Lowland Rainforest which are now held in the Jabalbina Yalanji Aboriginal Corporation and Land Trust on behalf of Kuku Yalanji people.
Aunty Lyn Johnson and Jabalbina Ranger Victor Tayley
The blocks, which were purchased by the Rainforest 4 Foundation over the past two years underwent a thorough assessment to be identified as high priorities for environmental conservation and cultural outcomes in a unique partnership between non-profit organisations Rainforest 4 Foundation, HalfCut, and the Jabalbina Yalanji Aboriginal Corporation.
Jabalbina Yalanji Aboriginal Corporation works with the Queensland State Government to have the properties added to the Daintree National Park estate and jointly managed as Cape York Peninsula Aboriginal Land*.
The Queensland State Government also provides funding directly to the Jabalbina Yalanji Aboriginal Corporation to enable the Jabalbina Rangers to co-manage the Daintree National Park and this will include the properties acquired through the partnership.
Kelvin Davies, Founder of the Rainforest 4 Foundation said the partnership was invaluable.
“This really is a win-win as the rainforest and its conservation values are protected forever and ownership and management of the land returns to Kuku Yalanji," Mr Davies said.
Welcome to Kuku Yalanji Country and Smoking Ceremony
A gathering was held in the Daintree last month to acknowledge the handover with a Welcome to County and Smoking Ceremony.
Lyn Johnson, Chair of the Board for the Jabalbina Yalanji Aboriginal Corporation told the Koori Mail and media present at the event that the handover "was an awesome day".
"We are building and working with Rainforest 4 Foundation and HalfCut and looking forward to moving with strong foundations into the future,” Ms Johnson said.
Rainforest 4 Foundation Founder Kelvin Davies seconded this, saying the celebration was meaningful due to the unique partnership which has and proven to be successful.
“We came to an agreement with Traditional Owners that buying back land was an important thing to do. We are celebrating that partnership and its success as we hand over the titles," Mr Davies said.
"This is the land of the Kuku Yalanji people, and the partnership is based on Traditional Owners making decisions on what is best for them.
“We are doing things “proper way”, and nothing happens without consultation with and approval of the Elders responsible for the land to be purchased.
“We are honouring the process of Traditional Owners holding the title deeds, rather than us, and of Traditional Owners managing the conservation practices on that land," he said.
Through the outcomes of the partnership Aboriginal people are not only seen as Traditional Owners, but they also once again become the actual owners.
While the titles for six blocks have been handed over, there’s plenty more in the pipeline.
Mr Davies said those six blocks were just the beginning, with Rainforest 4 Foundation identifying more properties as a high priority for acquisition.
“We are aiming to purchase one property every two months,” Mr Davies said.
“We already have two more blocks that have been purchased this year and these properties will also be transferred to the Jabalbina Yalanji Aboriginal Corporation and Land Trust as management agreements are documented."
“We have a strategy in place to purchase and protect more than 200 blocks in the Daintree lowland rainforest.
“These blocks should never have been subdivided and sold, but they were, so the solution is more land buyback,” he said.
Through the generous support of their donors, the Rainforest 4 Foundation and HalfCut have raised the funds to purchase the properties.
While no government funds were available, individual donors have shown their strong desire and action to see the Daintree Rainforest protected forever.
James (Jimmy) Stanton-Cooke the Co-founder of HalfCut said the collaboration was inspiring.
"Coming together to protect the Daintree from development and supporting Traditional Owners to get back onto country is so rewarding for everyone involved," Jimmy said.
"The hand-back of six properties shows we can make a huge impact and donors can see the outcome of their contributions."
The six properties now held in the Jabalbina Yalanji Aboriginal Corporation and Land Trust on behalf of Kuku Yalanji people are:
- Lot 107 Buchanan Creek Road, Cow Bay
- Lot 2 Thornton peak Drive, Forest Creek
- Lot 390 Maple Road, Cow Bay
- Lot 124 Quandong Road, Cow Bay
- Lot 330 Cape Tribulation Road, Cow Bay
- Lot 305 Cypress Road, Cow Bay
Please help us purchase and protect the next Daintree Rainforest property and make your tax-deductible donation now.
The Eastern Kuku Yalanji (pronounced guh-guh Yel-an-jee) people are the true owners of the Daintree Lowland Rainforest. Their Bubu (country) runs between the Mowbray River just south of Port Douglas (from Yule Point) and the Annan River in the North (South of Cooktown) running West to the Great Dividing Range spreading out towards Lakeland Downs.
*The Rainforest 4 Foundation, HalfCut and, and the Jabalbina Yalanji Aboriginal Corporation are working together to see freehold land in the Daintree Lowland Rainforest purchased and then protected through its management by Traditional Owners, the Eastern Kuku Yalanji in the national park estate.
The partnership feeds into a much larger program of land transfer, ownership, and management.
Jabalbina Yalanji Aboriginal Corporation and the Eastern Kuku Yalanji people are currently negotiating with the Queensland state government on agreements to jointly manage the Daintree National Park through the Cape York Peninsula Tenure Resolution Program.
Since commencing in 2008, the Cape York Peninsula Tenure Resolution Program has handed back almost 3.5 million hectares of land to Aboriginal Corporations or Land Trusts and there are now 26 jointly managed National Parks on Cape York Peninsula.
The Cape York Peninsula Tenure Resolution Program will result in Eastern Yalanjiwarra and Jabalbina Yalanji Aboriginal Corporation managing the Daintree, Ngalba Bulal, Hope Islands and Black Mountain national parks in the future.