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Native title recognised in Daintree


North Queensland's Eastern Kuku Yalanji People will have a significant management role in national parks following the recognition today of native title rights over 126,900 ha in Queensland's pristine World Heritage Daintree area.

Justice Allsop of the Federal Court of Australia is making a consent determination at Cape Tribulation, recognising the Eastern Kuku Yalanji People's native title over land and waters between Port Douglas and Cooktown.

Today's outcome was achieved through negotiation and agreement between the native title claimants, state and local governments, Wet Tropics Management Authority and others. It finalises the native title claim the Eastern Kuku Yalanji People lodged 13 years ago and follows the registration of 15 indigenous land use agreements (ILUAs).

These agreements settled a range of land use issues, ensured the protection of environmentally and culturally sensitive areas and created economic development opportunities for the Eastern Kuku Yalanji People.

As native title holders they will have the right to exclusively possess, occupy and use 30,300 ha of Unallocated State Land.

They will also have recognition of their non-exclusive rights over 96,600 ha, including the right to access the area to camp, hunt, gather natural resources for personal needs and conduct ceremonies. They will have non-exclusive rights to the water, to hunt, fish and gather and to use it for personal needs.

Tribunal Member, Graham Fletcher, who mediated between the groups, said the determination was the culmination of negotiations over a complex range of land tenure issues in the World Heritage area.

‘From now on the Eastern Kuku Yalanji People will be able to exercise their native title rights under their traditional laws and customs,’ he said.

‘They will also experience a whole range of benefits negotiated under the broader ILUA package that will start to flow through.’

The benefits include a greater management role in the management of parks and some reserves, ownership of 16,500 ha of Aboriginal freehold for residential and economic development, the doubling of the national park estate between Cooktown and Mossman and the preservation of environmental and cultural values.

‘By taking a cooperative approach to native title, the parties have reached agreement on a range of complex issues and achieved an outcome they're all satisfied with,’ Mr Fletcher said.

‘They now face a future of certainty and opportunity, while ensuring this pristine part of the world is well managed and protected.’

For more information see the backgrounder.