The buyback of all undeveloped freehold properties in the Daintree Lowland Rainforest is needed to fulfill our vision. Not only do we want to see no further development, we want the negative impacts of the rural residential subdivision to be reversed.
Daintree Lowland Rainforest - Steven Nowakowski
The Daintree Lowland Rainforest is the oldest rainforests on Earth, having existed continuously for over 120 million years. It holds exceptionally high biodiversity and conservation values and is the largest continuous area of tropical rainforest remaining in Australia.
Many Australians are of the belief that the Daintree Lowland Rainforest is protected in a national park or as a World Heritage Area. The reality is quite different as two-thirds of the Daintree Lowland Rainforest was excluded from the Daintree National Park and World Heritage Area that was declared in 1988.
In the mid 1980’s a pro-development Queensland State Government rezoned leasehold and freehold in the Daintree Lowland Rainforest, enabling a developer to subdivide it into 1,100 blocks. This resulted in the building of over 50 km of roads and the clearing and development of high conservation value rainforest for housing. This was a disaster for the Daintree Lowland Rainforest.
The undeveloped freehold land between the Daintree River and Cape Tribulation has World Heritage values and should be protected in the Daintree National Park. The rural residential subdivision and the network of roads shouldn’t have been built. Our vision is to see the rewilding of 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 reversed.
This requires the purchase and protection of all undeveloped freehold properties in the Daintree Lowland Rainforest and their inclusion in the Daintree National Park.
More buyback is needed.
The buyback of undeveloped land in the Daintree Lowland Rainforest 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. For twenty-seven years this has been complemented through acquisitions by local and national non-profit conservation organisations that have acquired 75 properties. A summary of the buyback of land since 1992 can be seen here.
Today it’s estimated that 170 undeveloped freehold properties remain zoned as having development potential and therefore they remain at risk. Population growth, changes to the economy, the pressure to provide mains electricity, a bridge rather than the ferry and improved telecommunications could see the risk of development in the Daintree increase.
All undeveloped freehold properties that have development potential must be purchased and added to the Daintree National Park.
Arial view of a subdivision in the Daintree Lowland Rainforest.
The 2006 Douglas Shire Planning Scheme.
The 2006 Douglas Shire Planning Scheme removed the development rights from over 330 vacant properties. 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. Even though the Queensland Government had identified these properties as a priority for acquisition the owners were not forced to sell their land. They were given the option to retain ownership and receive financial compensation for the loss of development rights. Fifteen property owners accepted this option. Over time these property owners will decide to sell. When they do theses properties must be purchased for conservation and added to the Daintree National Park.
All undeveloped freehold properties that have had lost their development rights must be purchased and added to the Daintree National Park.
Why it's necessary to buy all undeveloped freehold land
The buyback of these properties is needed to fulfill our vision. 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 buyback all undeveloped freehold land for several reasons, it enables the closure of roads, brings more land in the Daintree Land Rainforest under the one management regime and ensures the highest level of protection by including land in the Daintree National Park and World Heritage Area.
Supporting closure of roads.
The success of land buyback programs has seen hundreds of properties purchased and added to the Daintree National Park. This has enabled some of the service roads created for subdivision to be closed. With the approval of the Douglas Shire Council, five service roads were closed between November 2018 and April 2019 and planted back to rainforest. When more properties are purchased it increases the potential of more road closures. We want to see more roads closed and revegetated. This will require the purchased of all freehold properties on individual roads.
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This former service road in Cow Bay is now providing habitat for wildlife.
One management regime
The short and long-term management of the Daintree Lowland Rainforest will be best achieved through having one management regime. Individual absent landowners are not effectively managing land in the Daintree Lowland Rainforest. The freehold properties in the Daintree Lowland Rainforest almost all contain one or more Threatened species of plants and or animals and their management requires knowledge, expertise and financial resources. The management of exotic plants and animals is also an issue requiring ongoing action. The purchase of individual freehold properties and adding them the Daintree National park is the best solution.
Highest level of protection needed
The Daintree Lowland Rainforest deserves the highest level of protection. The Douglas Shire Planning Scheme created a Rainforest Residential Precinct, Rainforest Tourism Precinct and Rainforest Conservation Precinct. This is merely a planning instrument of local government. All that is required to have it overturned is a majority decision by the Douglas Shire Councillors. The next local government election could see pro-development Councillors elected and past decisions overturned. The highest level of protection for all land in the Daintree Lowland Rainforest is inclusion in the Daintree National Park and World Heritage Area.
We have an ongoing program to purchase and protect land in the Daintree Lowland Rainforest.
Please, make a tax-deductible donation to buy back land in the Daintree Rainforest.
Reversing the negative impacts of development following land buyback.
Let the water flow! The buyback of hundreds of Daintree Rainforest properties is allowing the negative impacts of rural residential development to be reversed. This week a concrete culvert on a service road in part of the subdivision was removed. This is a section of road that was closed and revegetated in November 2018. Now the natural flow of water to the nearby creek can occur. Revegetation will follow by our partners at Daintree Life who worked with the Douglas Shire Council to take out the old culvert. This great outcome shows that buyback of land supports the reversal of the negative impacts of development.