Chance to save Queensland's Wild Rivers
Across the remote north and west of Queensland are found some of
the world's last great tropical wild rivers. Amazingly, despite
the irreversible changes brought about over the last 200 years,
Queensland remains home to some of the nation's most majestic wild
rivers. Rivers still flow freely throughout Cape York Peninsula,
the Gulf of Carpentaria and the western Channel Country, where entire
catchments remain largely intact.
2004 the Queensland Government announced its intention to protect
Queensland's wild rivers through the creation of a new 'Wild Rivers
the state government's plan, nineteen rivers have been proposed
While an impressive
start, there are many more Wild Rivers in Queensland that deserve
protection under the Wild Rivers Act.
The need to
protect all of Queensland's wild rivers is compelling. With land
and water resources becoming scarcer in southern Australia, the
threats to these rivers are increasing as industries look northwards
to expand and develop.
This is the
last chance to save all of Queensland's Wild Rivers.
rights and interests in Wild Rivers in Queensland
of wild rivers must include recognition of Aboriginal title and
the active participation of Traditional Owners and Indigenous communities.
A new Wild Rivers
Act offers a decisive opportunity to consider Indigenous peoples'
interests in the conservation of land and waters in Queensland.
It is a chance to prevent the impacts that have devastated so many
of Australia's once great rivers, while reflecting the inter-relationship
between indigenous environmental, spiritual and cultural values.
Owners assert their right to be actively involved at all levels
in the management of natural and cultural values throughout their
traditional lands. In response, conservationists acknowledge that
the past exclusion of Traditional Owners from decision-making and
control in relation to land use and natural resource management
was inequitable. In addition, it was not in the best interests of
the Australian environment and its diverse species.
is an important source in understanding the environmental and heritage
values of wild rivers. Reducing the health and environmental values
of a river system also erodes cultural associations, leading to
loss of connection to country and the natural world. This undermines
the basis of Indigenous traditional ownership and the maintenance
and transmission of ecological and cultural knowledge through the
science and Indigenous ecological knowledge need to be brought together
to form the conservation strategies that guide the work of environmental
managers, landholders and conservation agencies.
natural and cultural conservation should also define the type and
direction of economic activity in and around wild rivers. This is
not to ignore the practical issues associated with meeting material
needs and community development. It is about investing in opportunities
to build a new economy - a 'conservation economy' - to achieve lasting
environmental protection and economic inclusion, especially for
those living in Queensland's more remote and largely intact landscapes.
The challenge now is to resolve the issues of tenure highlighted
by land rights claims and native title, find the appropriate ways
to protect and manage rivers into the future, and drive forward
the necessary legal reform.
We are clear
in our advocacy that the Government should take the opportunity
with this proposed legislation to introduce a new approach to Indigenous
rights in conservation in Queensland - one based on recognition
of Aboriginal title and the active participation of Traditional
Owners and Indigenous communities.
for Queensland's Wild Rivers: Indigenous rights and interests in
the proposed Wild Rivers Act
- a Native Title and Protected Areas Discussion Paper - PDF
For more on
the campaign to protect Queensland's Wild Rivers, see the campaign
web site -