Historic handback welcomed as Queensland returns world heritage Daintree to First Nations ownership

The Queensland Conservation Council, Australian Conservation Foundation and the Cairns and Far North Environment Centre have today welcomed the handback of the Daintree, Hope Islands, Ngalba Bulal and Black Mountain National Parks to the Eastern Kuku Yalanji Peoples.  

This historic event will see a total of 160,108 hectares of land returned to Eastern Kuku Yalanji ownership. Under the hand back arrangements the Jabalbina Aboriginal Corporation will take ownership of the national parks which will be jointly managed with the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service. 

The return of the Daintree, Ngalba Bulal and Kalkajaka (formerly Black Mountain) National Parks marks the first time ownership of World Heritage listed National Parks has been returned to First Nations people in Queensland. 

“The Daintree is globally significant and rich in living cultural heritage. Returning these parks to the Eastern Kuku Yalanji is the best way to protect the area’s natural and cultural values,'' said the Queensland Conservation Council’s Andrew Picone. 

“Returning the Daintree to the Eastern Kuku Yalanji People demonstrates the Palaszczuk government’s leadership in the growth and support of First Nations’ management of our protected area estate” 

“First Nations peoples hold unique knowledge and rights inherited from their ancestors and have cared for the Daintree since time immemorial,” said Australian Conservation Foundation CEO Kelly O’Shanassy.

“They are leaders in caring for Country, which is fundamental to protecting nature in Australia.”

“This is such an important moment for the World Heritage Area and we look forward to the Palaszczuk Government’s continued return of national parks to First Nations ownership and funding of their management.” Lucy Graham, Director, Cairns and Far North Environment Centre. 

Since 1995, the Cape York land tenure resolution process has returned approximately 4 million hectares of land to Aboriginal ownership. This includes over 2 million hectares of Aboriginal owned and jointly managed national parks and nearly 2 million hectares of Aboriginal freehold land.


For more information: 

Andrew Picone - Protected Areas Campaign Manager - Queensland Conservation Council -

0457 798 359 

Josh Meadows - Media Adviser - Australian Conservation Foundation - 0439 342 992

Lucy Graham - Director - Cairns and Far North Environment Centre - 0497 781 002