Aboriginal Owners Win Back Daintree Rainforest in Historic Deal

Aboriginal custodians won back the Daintree tropical rainforest — the world’s oldest living rainforest in northern Australia — in a historic deal with the Queensland government on Sept. 29.

The Eastern Kukui Yalanji people have taken formal ownership of the Daintree National Park, as well as the Ngalba Bulal, Kalkajaka and Hope Islands national parks, during a handback ceremony at Bloomfield, north of Wujal Wujal.

Under the agreement, the Eastern Kuku Yalanji people will jointly manage the land with the Queensland government.

“Their culture is one of the world’s oldest living cultures and this land handback recognizes their right to own and manage their Country, and to protect their culture,” State Environment Minister Meaghan Scanlon said on social media.

Chrissy Grant, a traditional owner and the new chair of the Wet Tropics Management Authority board, told Guardian Australia that the handback would help address historical oversight.

Grant also said that traditional owners wish to eventually solely manage the national parks.

The handback came after four years of negotiations.

Estimated to be 180 million years old, the Daintree rainforest is part of 160,213 hectares of land and is included in the World Heritage list of the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization.

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