We’ve provided answers to the most frequently asked questions for the purchase and protection of Lot 257 Silver Ash Road in the Daintree Lowland Rainforest.
A developer created 1,136 blocks in the Daintree Lowland Rainforest.
Isn’t the Daintree protected in a National Park and World Heritage Area?
Why is the Daintree important?
The Daintree Lowland Rainforest is the oldest rainforest on Earth, having existed continuously for over 120 million years. It holds exceptionally high biodiversity and conservation value and is the largest continuous area of tropical rainforest remaining in Australia. Rainforests once covered much of Australia, however, as conditions became drier the rainforest contracted to remnants along the east coast. The flora of the Daintree contains an almost complete record of the evolution of plant life on Earth, including extremely ancient flowering plant families found nowhere else. The Daintree Lowland Rainforest also provides a refuge for many unique species of fauna including the Southern Cassowary, Bennett’s Tree-kangaroo, and Musky Rat-kangaroo.
The International Union for the Conservation of Nature had this to say about the Daintree Lowland Rainforest. “Within the region, the Daintree River to Cape Tribulation coast has a special status. It is the last surviving, essentially intact, tropical lowland rainforest in Australia. It has one of the highest diversity of plant families anywhere in the world. Its rarity, fame and superlative beauty make it one of the foundations of the region’s economy. It is the only place in the world where two World Heritage Areas meet.” - IUCN
In November 2021 the Australian Government listed the lowland tropical rainforest of the Wet Tropics ecological community, in the Endangered Category under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999. The listing is effective as of Friday 26 November 2021 and includes the Wet Tropics of North Queensland, from near Ingham (just south of the Cardwell Range) in the south to north around Cape Tribulation. While now listed as Endangered the Daintree Lowland Rainforest is still not fully protected. The freehold properties in the Daintree lowland remain at risk from rural residential development.
Reversing the impacts of development
Lot 257 Silver Ash Road (RP738997) is a freehold property created through the subdivision of land in 1982. It is located in Cow Bay in the Daintree Lowland Rainforest. To fulfill our vision of the conservation of the Daintree Lowland Rainforest requires the buyback of all undeveloped freehold properties in the Daintree Lowland Rainforest and their management for nature conservation. Not only do we want to see no further development, but we also want the negative impacts of the rural residential subdivision to be reversed. We aim to purchase as many properties as we can and see them provided with the highest available level of protection.
Lot 257 Silver Ash Road at Cow Bay
What are the threats to the Daintree Rainforest?
Since the 1980’s there has been constant pressure applied to further develop the Daintree Lowland Rainforest. This includes calls for a bridge over the Daintree River, upgrading of roads, and the supply of mains electricity. This would only create conditions supportive of further inappropriate development. We have identified 207 undeveloped freehold properties in the Daintree lowlands that we want to purchase and protect. Building more houses on these properties would fragment the rainforest and for that reason, further buyback of land is needed.
Why we are purchasing Lot 257 Silver Ash Road
We are purchasing Lot 257 Silver Ash Road in Cow Bay to fulfill our vision for the conservation of the Daintree Lowland Rainforest. This requires the buyback of all undeveloped freehold properties in the Daintree Lowland Rainforest. Not only do we want to see no further development, but we also want the negative impacts of the rural residential subdivision to be reversed. It's necessary to buy back all undeveloped freehold land for several reasons, it enables the closure of roads, brings more land in the Daintree Lowland Rainforest under the one management regime, and ensures the highest level of protection by including land in the Daintree National Park estate. It's been demonstrated that many properties in private ownership are not adequately protected. We've provided more information here.
Lot 257 Silver Ash Road is located between two isolated areas of the Daintree National Park. Purchase of this property will link them up.
Beautiful tropical rainforest and creek on Lot 257
The buyback of land in the Daintree Lowland Rainforest by nonprofit organisations began in 1992. The Douglas Shire Council, Queensland, and Australian governments have all contributed financially to the purchase or ‘buyback’ of freehold land aimed at preventing further development and in winding back the impacts of the subdivision.
The 2006 Douglas Shire Planning Scheme removed the development rights from over 330 vacant properties. The Council recognised that whilst these properties are outside the World Heritage Area, they shared many of the same natural attributes and there was a need to cap development to improve conservation outcomes. This was supported by the Queensland State Government who committed $15 million for the Daintree Buyback Scheme. This money was used to purchase freehold properties suitable for inclusion in the national park or other conservation tenures. Owners of these properties were also given the option to retain ownership and receive financial compensation for the loss of development rights. It's estimated fifteen property owners accepted this option and these properties remain in private ownership. Lot 257 Silver Ash Road is one of these properties.
The Douglas Shire Council does not have Lot 257 Silver Ash Road in Cow Bay zoned for development, however, all it would take is a decision by Douglas Shire Council to rezone the property. As the protection this freehold property has is limited, we want to add it to the Daintree National Park estate where it will have the highest level of protection available. This will also help to wind back the impacts of past development and improve conservation of the Daintree Lowland Rainforest.
Conservation values of Lot 257 Silver Ash Road
Lot 257 Silver Ash Road provides habitat for five Threatened species. It is important that this land is managed for its conservation values.
All of the vegetation on Lot 257 Silver Ash Road is remnant tropical rainforest being Regional Ecosystem 7.11.1a Mesophyll Vine Forest. The property is entirely undeveloped with no clearing or disturbance. A total of 205 native plant species were identified in our survey.
Three species found on Lot 257 are listed on the Queensland Nature Conservation Act 1992.
1, Greys Walnut (Endiandra grayi) NCA: Vulnerable
2, Noah’s Walnut (Endiandra microneura) NCA: Near Threatened
3, Daintree Gardenia (Randia audasii) NCA: Near Threatened
Two Threatened species of birds on Lot 257 are listed on the Queensland Nature Conservation Act 1992.
1, Endangered Southern Cassowary (Casuarius casuarius johnsonii) NCA: Endangered
2, Macleay's Fig-Parrots (Cyclopsitta diophthalma macleayana) NCA: Vulnerable
Daintree Gardenia (Randia audasii)
Who are the Traditional Owners and how are they involved?
The Eastern Kuku Yalanji Bama (Bama meaning Rainforest Aboriginal people) are the owners of the Daintree Lowland Rainforest. Their Country (Bubu) runs along the East Coast of Far North Queensland and it includes land and sea between Port Douglas and just south of Cooktown. The Eastern Kuku Yalanji has a rich cultural identity and strong spiritual connection to Daintree Rainforest.
The Jabalbina Yalanji Aboriginal Corporation represents the Eastern Kuku Yalanji in the management of Bubu. They employ the Jabalbina Rangers who work on Bubu.
Jabalbina Yalanji Aboriginal Corporation, Rainforest 4 Foundation, and fellow nonprofit HalfCut have a partnership agreement to purchase and protect land in the Daintree Lowland Rainforest.
The properties acquired by the Rainforest 4 Foundation will be managed by the Traditional Owners, the Eastern Kuku Yalanji as part of the Daintree National Park Cape York Peninsula Aboriginal Land (CYPAL) estate. The Jabalbina Rangers will undertake the management and restoration works on the properties acquired through this project.
Founder of Rainforest 4 Foundation (left) with Kuku Yalanji Traditional Owners
Who is managing this project?
This project to purchase and protect land in the Daintree Lowland Rainforest is a partnership involving the Rainforest 4 Foundation, Jabalbina Yalanji Aboriginal Corporation, and HalfCut. Jabalbina Yalanji Aboriginal Corporation represents the Eastern Kuku Yalanji people, the Traditional Owners of the Daintree Rainforest. We recognise we are Stronger Together and have now acquired 20 Daintree properties to be protected and managed by the Kuku Yalanji people. The partnership is the only formalised, non-Government program that purchases land for conservation to be owned and managed by its Traditional Owners.
This is how it works.
On the 29th of September 2021 a historic handover of land occurred, seeing 160,108 hectares returned to the ownership of the Eastern Kuku Yalanji people. This included the Daintree National Park and the Ngalba-bulal, Kalkajaka, and Hope Islands national parks. In addition, an Indigenous Management Agreement was signed for the designation of these national parks as Cape York Peninsula Aboriginal Land (CYPAL). These national parks are now jointly managed by Jabalbina Yalanji Aboriginal Corporation and the Queensland Government.
At the handover ceremony
The land we are purchasing for conservation is following the same process of being returned to Eastern Kuku Yalanji. We are working towards having all the properties we acquire included in the Daintree National Park Cape York Peninsula Aboriginal Land (CYPAL) estate. The Queensland Government also provides funding for the employment of the Jabalbina Rangers and this ensures the properties we are acquiring are appropriately managed.
Our partnership was recognised in the 2021 Queensland Reconciliation Awards, winning the Premier’s Reconciliation Award and as winners in the Partnership category. The awards recognised our “unique partnership – the only formalised, non-Government program which purchases land for conservation to be owned and managed by its Traditional Owners”.
2021 Queensland Reconciliation Awards
How will the land be purchased?
The properties are being acquired by the Rainforest 4 Foundation (ABN 49 628 358 323). We are registered with the Australian Government (ASIC) as a Company Limited by Guarantee (a non-profit organisation) and with the Australian Charities and Not-for-Profits Commission (ACNC). Our Constitution details that we must use all money raised for charitable purposes. Our constitution restricts our activities to rainforest conservation activities. We ensure the land has the highest level of protection and that they are managed for conservation. To achieve this the properties are transferred to the Jabalbina Yalanji Aboriginal Corporation and Land Trust where they are managed by the Traditional Owners, the Eastern Kuku Yalanji as part of the Daintree National Park - Cape York Peninsula Aboriginal Land (CYPAL) estate.
The properties are acquired in the same manner as other freehold properties in Australia. A contract for sale is exchanged, a deposit paid and a settlement date set. The purchaser and the seller will both have a conveyancer acting on their behalf.
As a charity, we are providing the opportunity for people to make donations to support the purchase and protection of land. We are unable to structure an opportunity for people to be joint owners, to have a share, or to have their name on the title.
We will need to pay rates to the Douglas Shire Council up until the property is managed as Daintree National Park - Cape York Peninsula Aboriginal Land (CYPAL) estate. The process of purchasing the property and transferring it to Cape York Peninsula Aboriginal Land (CYPAL) may take up to 12 months.
What about feral animals?
The main feral animal problem in the Daintree is pigs. The Douglas Shire Council has a trapping program that removes 600 pigs per year. There are very few if any feral cats in the Daintree due to the number of large pythons that prey on them.
What about the risk of bushfires?
The risk of fires in this location is low as this is one of the wettest places in Australia and rainforest vegetation is less likely to burn. The risk of fires is managed by removing exotic flammable grasses.
Where is the Daintree Rainforest?
The Daintree Rainforest is a large area of tropical rainforest in Far North Queensland that extends from Mossman Gorge (80km north of Cairns) to Cape Tribulation (110km north of Cairns). It includes large areas of rainforest-clad mountains. Between the Daintree River and Cape Tribulation, the rainforest is continuous from the mountain to the sea and when many people speak of the Daintree, they are often referring to this area, which is known as the Daintree Lowland Rainforest.
What about neighbouring properties?
Some of the other neighbouring properties have been developed for housing, however many others in Cow Bay have been purchased for conservation.
Will I be able to visit the properties?
Yes, we want donors and supporters to see the rainforest they are helping to purchase and protect. It is quite easy to visit the Daintree Lowland Rainforest as tourism is established. You can make a day trip from Cairns or Port Douglas or stay for as long as you like. There are many accommodation and tour operators in the Daintree Rainforest that you can find online. Self-drive tourism is also very popular and the land we are purchasing for conservation is easily accessed by a 2WD vehicle.
Has this type of buyback been done successfully before now?
Yes, in the past two years, we have purchased twenty Daintree Rainforest properties for conservation.
Since 1992, non-profit organisations have purchased eighty properties for conservation. The Douglas Shire Council, Queensland, and Australian governments have all contributed financially to the purchase or ‘buyback’ of freehold land aimed at preventing further development and to reverse the impacts of the subdivision, however, now all three levels of government say they won't make any further commitment to supporting the purchase and protection of more freehold land, even though the threat of development remains.
Purchased properties and Daintree National Park estate
Protection of the Daintree National Park
The Queensland Government’s track record related to the Daintree National Park provides confidence in its future management.
The Daintree National Park is a World Heritage Area, and this provides the highest level of protection for land in Australia. Since the declaration of the Daintree National Park in 1988, the Queensland Government has ensured land in the national park has been protected. They have also made additions to the national park estate. The conservation of the properties we are acquiring aligns with the Queensland Government plan for the conservation of the Daintree Lowland Rainforest.
The Queensland Government has contributed to the conservation of the Daintree in the following ways.
- In the early 1990s, the Queensland Government introduced a policy preventing the extension of mains electricity north of the Daintree River. This remains in place today.
- In 1993 the Australian and Queensland governments funded the Daintree Rescue Program providing $23 million. $11 million was used to purchase 83 properties totaling 1,640ha for their natural values. The remaining funds were used for management purposes such as visitor facilities.
- In 2004 the Douglas Shire Council placed a moratorium on development while a new planning scheme was developed. This ultimately placed limits on development in specified areas north of Alexandra Range and removed development rights from 350 freehold properties. Between 2006-2008 the Queensland State Government created the Daintree Buyback Scheme to purchase land impacted by the Douglas Shire Council planning scheme. Landholders were given the option to sell to the state government or be compensated for the loss of development rights. The Queensland government provided $15 million and 330 properties were acquired for the Daintree National Park estate.
How much will it cost?
To purchase and protect Lot 257 Silver Ash Road, we need to raise $27,250.
At 1.09 hectares this represents a price of $2.50 per sqm.
We receive pro bono support for conveyancing and we are exempt from government transfer fees (stamp duty).
What happens if the target is exceeded?
All monies raised in excess of $27,250 will go straight towards the purchase of an additional property. There are another 200 properties we would like to purchase and protect.
If the fundraising target is not achieved what will happen to my donation?
All funds raised will be spent on Daintree land purchase and protection. We have been successful in purchasing land in the Daintree Lowland Rainforest for conservation twenty times in the past twenty months. We feel confident in reaching the fundraising target for this property. If it did occur that we didn't reach the target of $27,250 to buy this property then we would use the available funds to purchase another property.
We want to be successful, now and into the future, so we carefully choose the properties we want to purchase for conservation. We have a plan to reach the fundraising target needed to buy each property. We purchase them one at a time, we space out the acquisitions and we give consideration to the total cost and the success of past fundraising. Of course, nothing is guaranteed and if we are unable to reach the target for a specified property purchase the donated monies will be used for a future land purchase in the Daintree Rainforest, or if necessary for other conservation projects in the Daintree Rainforest, for example, planting trees. The Rainforest 4 Foundation is registered with the Australian Charities and Non-for-profits Commission and we are required to only spend the donations we receive on the cause as specified in our constitution.
How can I make a donation to purchase and protect land in the Daintree Lowland Rainforest?
Ways to Donate
If you want to donate with a cheque/money order or through a direct deposit, please see our Ways to Donate page.
Cheque or Money Order
You can donate by sending a cheque or money order made out to the Bunya Sustainability Fund to PO Box 1226, Mullumbimby, NSW 2482.
You can send your donation to [email protected]
Direct Deposit: If you would like to donate by direct deposit, the account details are:
Bank: ANZ Bank
Account Name: Bunya Sustainability Fund
BSB: 012 742
Account No. 2093 50036
If you contribute by direct deposit, please send an email to [email protected] with the details of the amount and any preference you have for supporting a project. Please also provide your name and postal address so we can issue a receipt.
You can make cash deposits at any branch of the ANZ Bank or their agents. The account details are:
Bank: ANZ Bank
Account Name: Bunya Sustainability Fund
BSB: 012 742
Account No. 2093 50036
If you contribute by a cash deposit, please send an email to [email protected] with the details of the amount and any preference you have for supporting a project. Please also provide your name and postal address so we can issue a receipt.
About the Rainforest 4 Foundation
The Rainforest 4 Foundation is an Australian Company Limited by Guarantee (the legal structure of an Australian nonprofit organisation. We are registered with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (the Australian company regulator).
We are also registered with the Australian Charites and Not-for-profits Commission (the Australian charity regulator).
Australian Company Number (ACN): 628358323
Australian Business Number (ABN): 49628358323
If you have any questions please contact us or call Kelvin Davies on 0437 423 119.