Australia’s Daintree National Forest is renowned for its rich biodiversity, including ancient and rare species. In this file photo taken on June 30, 2015, an endangered cassowary roams the forest. Â© Wilson Ring, AP (SCREENSHOTS VIA AFP)
BLOOMFIELD: Australia’s Daintree Rainforest has been returned to its indigenous owners as the government begins to cede control of the world’s oldest rainforest.
The Daintree National Park, a World Heritage Site by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, a 135-million-year-old tropical rainforest, was returned to the eastern people of Kuku Yalanji during of a ceremony in the remote town of Bloomfield on Wednesday.
The vast, humid jungle is teeming with ancient and rare species – from the giant clawed cassowary to plants that have been around since the age of the dinosaurs.
Traditional East Kuku Yalanji owner Chrissy Grant said the move was a historic event that put the community “in control of our own destiny.”
A total of 160,000 hectares (approximately 395,000 acres) of land on the Cape York Peninsula – Australia’s northeastern tip – has been returned to the region’s traditional indigenous owners as part of the reconciliation measures.
British settlers arrived in Australia in 1788, colonizing the continent and leaving indigenous groups marginalized.
The national parks will initially be managed jointly with the state government of Queensland before being transferred to the sole care of the indigenous group.
Grant said a foundation would be created to provide training and jobs to local First Nations people in areas such as land management, tourism and research.
Queensland State Environment Minister Meaghan Scanlon said land restitution was a key step on the road to reconciliation after an “uncomfortable and ugly” past.
“The culture of the oriental people of Kuku Yalanji is one of the oldest living cultures in the world and this agreement recognizes their right to own and manage their country to protect their culture and share it with visitors as they become leaders. of the tourism industry, âshe said.