We’ve provided answers to the most frequently asked questions on the purchase and protection of Lot 2 Thornton Peak Drive in the Daintree Lowland Rainforest.
Isn’t the Daintree protected in a National Park and World Heritage Area?
Two-thirds of the Daintree Lowland Rainforest was excluded from inclusion in the Daintree National Park and World Heritage Area that was declared in 1988. In 1982 a pro-development Queensland State Government rezoned leasehold and freehold in the Daintree Lowland Rainforest, enabling a developer to subdivide it into 1,137 blocks. This resulted in the building of over 50km of roads and the clearing and development of high conservation value rainforest for housing. The freehold land between the Daintree River and Cape Tribulation has World Heritage values and should be protected in the Daintree National Park.
A developer created 1,137 blocks in the Daintree Lowland Rainforest.
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
Lot 2 Thornton Peak Drive
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. There are currently 207 undeveloped freehold properties in the Daintree lowlands that we want to purchase and add to the Daintree National Park. Building more houses on these properties would further fragment the rainforest and for that reason, further buyback of land is needed.
Reversing the impacts of development.
To fulfil 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 protected in the Daintree National Park estate, as this will provide the highest available level of protection.
Lot 2 Thornton Peak Drive at Forest Creek can be developed for housing subject to approval by the Douglas Shire Council. Nearby properties in Cow Bay have been developed for housing with clearing occurring as recently as June 2021. We are purchasing this property to ensure it is managed for conservation.
Clearing of the Daintree Lowland Rainforest in Forest Creek
What about Lot 2 Thornton Peak Drive?
Lot 2 Thornton Peak Drive (Lot 2 RP 738519) is a 1.17-hectare freehold property created through the subdivision of land in 1982. It is located in Forest Creek in the Daintree Lowland Rainforest.
The current owners have agreed to sell the property on agreeable terms and conditions. We are grateful that they have given us an option to purchase this land so we can protect it in the Daintree National Park estate. Buying and protecting Lot 2 Thornton Peak Drive at Forest Creek will be a fantastic outcome for conservation. We purchased lot 3 Thornton Peak Drive in February 2020 and eleven other Daintree Rainforest properties in the last two years.
Purchase of this property and its protection on the Daintree National Park estate will also support the Traditional Owners of Daintree Rainforest, the Eastern Kuku Yalanji. Jabalbina Yalanji Aboriginal Corporation represents the Eastern Kuku Yalanji and employs rangers who co-manage the Daintree National Park. Jabalbina Yalanji Aboriginal Corporation and Rainforest 4 Foundation are reducing further ecological and cultural degradation of Country in the Daintree Rainforest and consulted on the acquisition of Lot 2 Thornton Peak Drive.
Threatened plant species have found on the property listed under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 includes the Thornton Aspen, a very rare plant previously found at only six locations between the Daintree River and Bloomfield to the north.
Thornton Aspen (Acronychia acuminata)
Who is managing this project?
The partnership is the only formalised, non-Government program that purchases land for conservation to be owned and managed by its Traditional Owners. The partnership was recognised at the 2021 Queensland Reconciliation Awards winning the Premier’s Reconciliation Award and the Partnership Award category.
2021 Queensland Reconciliation Awards
How are the Traditional Owners involved?
The Eastern Kuku Yalanji Bama (Bama meaning Rainforest Aboriginal people) are the owners of the Daintree Lowland Rainforest. Their Country (Babu) 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 Country.
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.
Founder of Rainforest 4 Foundation (left) with Kuku Yalanji Traditional Owners
Who will own the land?
The property will be 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.
The properties acquired by the Rainforest 4 Foundation are then 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.
In 2007, the Eastern Kuku Yalanji signed a series of Indigenous Land Use Agreements (ILUAs) with the Queensland Government. These agreements recognise Eastern Kuku Yalanji's rights to be custodians and managers of their traditional country. Under these agreements, Eastern Kuku Yalanji people will be involved in managing Daintree National Park.
The Queensland Government provides funding to the Jabalbina Yalanji Aboriginal Corporation to co-manage the Daintree National Park and this includes the properties acquired through this program.
The Indigenous peoples on Cape York Peninsula and the Queensland Government are negotiating the ownership and management of national parks. Since 2008, the Cape York Peninsula Tenure Resolution Program has handed back almost 3.5 million hectares of land to an Aboriginal Corporation or Land Trust and there are now 26 jointly managed national parks on Cape York Peninsula. Discussions with Eastern Kuku Yalanji Bama commenced in 2017.
Key features of jointly managed national parks include:
- National park land is owned by an Aboriginal land holding entity (either an Aboriginal Corporation or Land Trust).
- Decisions about park management are made jointly by the Aboriginal land holding entity and Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service (QPWS).
- Work on the park is undertaken by the Aboriginal land holding entity in partnership with QPWS.
Through the Cape York Peninsula Tenure Resolution Program, the Eastern Kuku Yalanji and Jabalbina Yalanji Aboriginal Corporation will manage the Daintree National Park.
The Jabalbina Yalanji Aboriginal Corporation has added additional information on the Cape York Peninsula Tenure Resolution Program here.
We will need to pay rates to the Douglas Shire Council 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 into the national parks estate will likely take up 12 months.
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.
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.
What about neighbouring properties?
Lot 2 Thornton Peak Drive has a boundary with the Daintree National Park and World Heritage Area that was declared in 1988.
The neighbouring property at Lot 3 Thornton Peak Drive is one that we acquired for conservation in February 2020. Other nearby properties are either undeveloped and at risk for the development for housing.
Has this type of buyback been done successfully before now?
Since 1992, non-profit organisations have purchased seventy-five 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 in reversing 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.
Can you trust the Queensland Government to protect the Daintree National Park?
Many people are critical of the Queensland Government’s position on environmental issues, for example, their support for Adani’s Carmichael Coal Mine, and some have asked if the Queensland Government can be trusted to protect the land forever. While nothing is guaranteed we can be reassured by the Queensland Government’s track record related to the Daintree National Park.
In 1982 the Queensland Government approved a rural residential subdivision of 1,137 properties in the Daintree Lowland Rainforest. At this time the National Party was in power in Queensland and the Premier was Joh Bjelke-Petersen. The demographics of the Queensland population has changed significantly since the 1980s' and the gerrymander that kept the National party and Joh Bjelke-Petersen in power from 1967 to 1987 has now been abolished.
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 land acquired for the Daintree National Park has been protected.
The current Queensland Government says they will not commit any more money to the acquisition of freehold land in the Daintree Lowland Rainforest, however, we can see 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 totalling 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.
Daintree National Park estate and connectivity with purchased properties
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?
We are acquiring Lot 2 Thornton Peak Drive to prevent it from being developed for housing and also so we can ensure it will be managed for conservation, this includes the future management of the fire regime. In 2020 an unplanned and uncontrolled fire originating on a neighbouring property burnt part of Lot 2. The fire occurred in the sclerophyll vegetation on the ridge-line and the rainforest on the creek adjoining the Daintree National park was not impacted was not burnt.
How will it be purchased?
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.
Daintree Lowland Rainforest | Photo by Steven Nowakowski
How much will it cost?
The acquisition of Lot 2 Thornton Peak Drive will cost $105,000. We receive pro bono support for conveyancing and we are exempt from government transfer fees (stamp duty).
As the property is 1.17-hectares or 11,700 sqm the price of $105,000 is $8.97 per sqm.
As Lot 2 Thornton Peak Drive is a smaller property the cost per sqm is higher than we have paid for other properties. The average price of properties purchased in the past two years is $2.50 per sqm.
What happens if the target is exceeded?
All monies raised in excess of $105,000 will go straight towards the purchase of an additional property. There are more than 200 other 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 nine 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 $105,000 to buy this property then we would use the available funds to purchase a less expensive 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 Charities 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.