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Indigenous cultural recognition for wet tropics

The Australian Conservation Foundation has congratulated Traditional Owners on the Federal Government’s formal recognition of the outstanding Indigenous cultural values Wet Tropics National Heritage Area in Northern Queensland.

The Australian Conservation Foundation has congratulated Traditional Owners on the Federal Government’s formal recognition of the outstanding Indigenous cultural values Wet Tropics National Heritage Area in Northern Queensland.

In 1988 North Queensland’s Wet Tropics was recognised for its outstanding natural values.  At the time, no consideration was given to the wishes of Traditional Owners of the Wet Tropics region and the cultural values went largely ignored.

For nearly the last 25 -years Traditional Owners from the Wet Tropics region have fought for recognition of the cultural values of the region and to protect and manage them according to their cultural knowledge. Today that formal recognition has been achieved.  

“Today marks a significant milestone for the Wet Tropics Rainforest Aboriginal Peoples,” said ACF’s Cape York Project Officer Leah Talbot, a Traditional Owner from the northern end of the wet tropics.

“Many Elders have passed away while waiting for governments to recognise their significant cultural heritage and knowledge.

“We encourage State and Federal government to work alongside Traditional Owners to enable them to manage their country according to their cultural knowledge.

“Traditional Owner groups on Cape York Peninsula now have an opportunity to have the Cape’s best natural and cultural values nominated for World Heritage recognition.”

The region consists of 20 Traditional Owner groups from Townsville in the south to Cooktown in the north. With a number of Aboriginal Traditional Owner organisations and native title determinations now in the region, Traditional Owners are ready more than ever to engage in the National and if desire World Heritage processes. 

Leah Talbot has been actively supporting the Indigenous community with the listing process and encouraging the Federal Government to support National Heritage listing, a crucial step before consideration by UNESCO and World Heritage status.

A study for the Federal Government found World Heritage properties around Australia generate more than $7 billion in economic activity every year.  In Queensland alone World Heritage sites contribute more than $4 billion in economic activity and provide nearly 25,000 direct and related jobs.