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ACF welcomes land handover and new Olkola National Park
The Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) has welcomed the historic return of lands to the Olkola people of Cape York Peninsula and the declaration of Australia’s newest protected area – the 269,830 hectare Aboriginal owned Olkola National Park.
The new national park is part of a 737,320 hectare package of former pastoral properties acquired by the Queensland Government, with support from the Federal Government.
The deal includes the creation of 364,000 hectares of Aboriginal freehold lands with the remaining 103,690 hectares coming back to the Olkola ownership once mining exploration permits expire over the next five years. In total, 633,630 hectares was handed back to the Olkola today.
The newly created Olkola National Park will protect ancient cultural sites including newly discovered rock art, extensive wetlands and river systems rich in aquatic life, vast tracts of open savannah and rainforest pockets. The area is also critical habitat for the nationally endangered golden-shouldered parrot, known as alwal in Olkola language.
Welcoming the handover, ACF Northern Australia Project Officer Andrew Picone stated "ACF congratulates the Olkola people on this historic day that sees the return of their homelands and thanks them for the creation of Australia’s newest national park.
“The return of land to the Olkola is the best way to protect this area’s natural and cultural heritage and turn around the extinction crisis facing northern Australia.
“With adequate funding from State and Federal governments, the Olkola will be well placed to restore the landscape and expand their own land management enterprises, delivering strong social, economic, cultural and environmental outcomes.
“The Olkola have already established a carbon abatement project and are considering their country’s tourism potential.
“ACF commends the Queensland Government for its commitment to returning land to Traditional Owners on Cape York and we welcome the great social, cultural, economic and environmental opportunities this process brings.
“We look forward to the State Government’s continued support for Indigenous land management and the return of Aboriginal homelands across Cape York.”
Since 1995, the Cape York land tenure resolution process has returned over 3 million hectares of land to Aboriginal ownership including nearly 2 million hectares of existing and new national parks and around 1 million hectares of Aboriginal freehold.
More than a million hectares has been returned as Aboriginal freehold for economic purposes.
The Cape York Land Council, Balkanu Development Corporation and the Queensland Government have been invaluable in delivering these positive outcomes.
12th October 2014 - NEW TOURISM ACTIVITIES IN NATIONAL PARKS THREATENS NATURAL HERITAGE
13th January 2014 - QUEENSLAND NATIONAL PARK ECOTOURISM PROPOSALS MOVE TO NEXT STAGE
18th October 2010 - DREAMING TRACK TO BECOME A GREAT WALK
28th October 2009 - JOINT MANAGEMENT FOR FAR NORTH QUEENSLAND NATIONAL PARK
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