Traditional Guardians Reclaim The Daintree Rainforest & Fraser Island!

Dec 17, 2021by Olivia - F&F

Recently, we’ve seen beautiful landscapes around Australia returned to Traditional Guardians, or renamed to reflect Indigenous history and culture that predates colonisation. Aboriginal culture dates back as far as 80,000 years — making it one of the oldest living cultures on the planet!

Daintree Rainforest Traditional CustodiansDaintree Rainforest Traditional Custodians

Daintree National Park Returned To Eastern Kuku Yalanji People

In a historic handover ceremony, the world’s oldest living rainforest has been returned to its traditional custodians — the Eastern Kuku Yalanji people. Formal ownership has been granted over 160, 213 hectares of country, stretching from Mossman to Cooktown in Queensland. This also includes the 180 million-year-old Daintree National Park, which was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1988.

Eastern Kuku Yalanji people already had native title over the land, but it was merely a form of recognition. The Traditional Guardians sought to manage the enormous area together with the Queensland Government, which will create new jobs for young people.

Butchulla People Fraser Island K'gariButchulla People Fraser Island K'gari

Fraser Island Renamed To ‘K’gari’, Which Means Paradise!

Following a ​​decades-long campaign by Butchulla Elders and community members, Fraser Island has been officially renamed K’gari (pronounced “Gurri”), meaning ‘paradise.’ It’s derived from the Butchulla people’s Dreamtime creation story. The World Heritage Listed island — located off the coast of southeast Queensland — is filled with rainforests, freshwater lakes, shifting sand dunes, and playful humpback whales!

Fraser Island was actually named after ​​Eliza Fraser; a woman who was shipwrecked on the island in 1836. The name K’gari recognises the history and culture that predates colonisation. Veronica Bird of the Butchulla Aboriginal Corporation has welcomed the name change following the three-decade-long campaign!

Ngadju Rangers ConservationNgadju Rangers Conservation

7 Million Hectares In WA Declared Protected Areas 

In WA, two sites totalling 7 million hectares have been placed in the care of Traditional Guardians. The first site, the Great Western Woodlands, is the largest temperate woodland on Earth — home to plenty of endangered birds, mammals and 30% of Australia's eucalyptus! 4.4 million ha of this area has been placed under the management of the Ngadju people under the Indigenous Protected Areas (IPA) program.

Senior Ngadju ranger, James Schultz says, “being an Indigenous Protected Area gives us more powers to go on country and look after these very important places”.

The second site is the Great Sandy Desert, with 2.9 million ha of it being placed in the care of the Ngururrpa people.

Indigenous Protected Areas Fire ManagementIndigenous Protected Areas Fire Management

Indigenous Protected Areas | Traditional Knowledge & Western Science

The two sites mentioned above — the Great Western Woodlands and the Great Sandy Desert — are the first of 12 new IPAs under the Government's $15 million program! So, what actually are IPAs? Well, the vision for the IPAs is to protect and enhance Indigenous culture and history, while protecting the natural environment and conserving biodiversity. 

"Together with the Indigenous Ranger Program, IPAs deliver cultural, social and economic outcomes for individuals and organisations" said the Minister for Indigenous Australians. Importantly, the land management knowledge and ecological knowledge of the Traditional Custodians dates as far back as 80,000 years. This wealth of knowledge — combined with modern technology and science — will provide long-term, regenerative benefits to IPAs across Australia.

We’re thrilled to see more Traditional Guardians managing Australia’s precious land and biodiversity, especially as part of the Indigenous Protected Areas program! These recent announcements represent a step forward — not just in the path to reconciliation — but also to a more holistic approach to protecting Australia’s land and biodiversity.

For more fantastic conservation initiatives, head on over to our Eco News category and check out the blogs below. 

NSW’s New Outback Nature Reserve Will Protect Native WIldlife!

WWF-Australia Launches ‘Walk For Wild’ Eco-Tourism Events

Australia’s First Predator-Free Haven Will Protect The Endangered Northern Bettong

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