ACF welcomes return of Batavia on Cape York to traditional owners

The Australian Conservation Foundation has welcomed the Queensland government’s return of the 241,637 hectare Batavia property to Traditional Owners under the Cape York Peninsula Land Tenure Resolution process.

Batavia, which includes significant conservation areas including the Wenlock River Corridor, the Embley Range and the Olive River headwaters, is part of the traditional homelands of the Atambaya, Northern Kaanju and Yinwum peoples.

The area will today become Aboriginal freehold land with some areas managed primarily for conservation of natural and cultural values.

“The State’s current program of returning properties of natural and cultural significance on Cape York Peninsula to Aboriginal ownership provides Traditional Owners with new economic opportunities,” said Andrew Picone, ACF’s acting Northern Australia Program Manager.

“With the Cape’s main road traversing the length of Batavia and its proximity to Moreton Station, the opportunities for culturally and environmentally appropriate tourism are enormous,” Mr Picone said.

The area is home to palm cockatoos, spotted cuscus and includes wetlands, monsoon and riverine rainforests and the eastern extent of the Weipa Plateau open forest. There are also extensive areas of savannah that support the largest population of the rare and endemic Cape York Cycad Cycas yorkiana.

“ACF strongly supports the Queensland Government’s commitment to returning land to Traditional Owners on Cape York and we welcome the great social, cultural, economic and environmental opportunities this process brings.”

Since 2004, the land tenure resolution process has returned close to two million hectares of land to Aboriginal ownership. It includes more than a million hectares of existing national parks and around 300,000 hectares of new conservation reserves. Nearly 700,000 hectares has been returned as Aboriginal freehold for economic purposes.