Native title and
protected areas
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Protected Areas & Native Title Policy

Queensland Conservation Council

Adopted January 2002



1.1 Purpose

This policy is a guiding document for the Queensland Conservation Council ("the Council") and its members. It sets out principles and actions in accord with Object 3.14 of the Council's Articles of Association. The policy provides for the consideration of the Native Title rights and traditional custodial relationships of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. It gives a direction for working in consultation with rightful indigenous communities in regards to identification, protection and management of the natural and cultural values of traditional lands and waters.

The policy defines the connection between the designation, protection and management of an area's natural and cultural values and the tenure, management and cultural rights of Native Title.

1.2 Principles

The concept and purpose of Protected Areas is the protection of natural and cultural values. This policy sets out a basis for achieving this purpose without disturbing the Native Title of traditional owners. The principles of the policy are -

1.2.1 Agreement building between environmental interests and Aboriginal traditional owners on ways of achieving natural and cultural protection

1.2.2 Legal recognition of Native Title in tenure and management arrangements for Protected Areas

1.2.3 Government and community responsibility for safeguarding both the environment and indigenous rights

1.2.4 Securing areas of high conservation value assessed on International Union for the Conservation of Nature Categories 1 and 2 and other applicable criteria for the evaluation of high natural and cultural values

1.2.5 Developing appropriate management systems and resources for the protection of the landscape and seascape in Queensland

1.2.6 Developing environmental protection strategies based on cross-cultural information and the mutual support of indigenous traditional and contemporary scientific knowledge

1.2.7 Respecting the indigenous cultural heritage of Protected Areas in Queensland

1.2.8 Increasing the scale of the protected area system in Queensland

1.2.9 Improving the effectiveness of protected area management, especially of its natural and indigenous cultural heritage


1.3 Recognition

Queensland Conservation Council recognises that protective measures need to be taken to ensure the long term viability and integrity of natural systems in Queensland. Major improvements need to be made to the extent and management of Protected Areas to achieve this goal.

Member groups of the Council have played and will continue to play a legitimate public role in advocating for and ensuring the protection of areas of high natural and cultural values.

The Council recognises that there is a strong correlation in Queensland between areas with Native Title or other strong indigenous connections and areas of high natural and cultural values. The customs of the traditional owners created an integrated system of large bounded areas of high natural values with integrated and enduring cultural values. The intertwining of indigenous cultural and natural values over tens of thousands of years has substantially shaped the Australian environment, of which the Council seeks protection.

The Council recognises that the indigenous peoples of Australia are the original custodians of the country upon which Protected Areas are established. According to Aboriginal traditions and customs, they have ownership of lands and waters. Traditional ownership gives rise to responsibilities to 'care for country' - analogous to a duty of cultural and environmental care.

The High Court of Australia found the Common Law acknowledges this traditional ownership in the form of Native Title. Native Title continues in many parts of Queensland. Queensland Conservation Council recognises that addressing the legal rights of Native Title will require reform over time to the tenure and management of Protected Areas.

The Council also recognises the need to continue to address matters of policy flowing from this legal and practical intersection of Protected Areas and Native Title.

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Policy statement

The Queensland Conservation Council will pursue the following course of action with respect to (a) areas designated for the protection of natural and cultural values, for the preservation of biodiversity, and for people's experience of natural and cultural heritage, and (b) Native Title and other indigenous rights and interests -

2.1 Advocate the creation and maintenance of Protected Areas that are legislatively secured and that achieve the following, in order of priority -

2.1.1 Provide for the permanent preservation of the area’s natural condition and the protection of the area's cultural resources and values, to the greatest possible extent

2.1.2 Provide for the management of the area, as far as practicable, in a way that is consistent with any Aboriginal tradition or Island custom applicable to the area, including any tradition or custom relating to activities in the area

2.1.3 Provide for the presentation of the areas cultural and natural resources and their values

2.1.4 Ensure that any use of the area is ecologically sustainable and in accord with the previous priorities

2.2 Advocate a cooperative framework for instituting Native Title rights in Protected Areas including -

2.2.1 Ongoing review and reform of the legislative and administrative framework to ensure consistency with legal rights and responsibilities of indigenous traditional owners and the State

2.2.2 The control and vesting of management in accordance with the rights and responsibilities of indigenous traditional owners and the State

2.2.3 The development of enforceable, area by area, environmental and cultural management plans

2.2.4 The inclusion of protected area outcomes in the development of Indigenous Land Use Agreements

2.3 Support the entitlement of rightful indigenous communities to continue the expression of their traditions and customs and to benefit from their Native Title rights with respect to Protected Areas

2.4 Work to develop agreements with rightful indigenous communities and agencies regarding the identification, protection and management of the natural and cultural values of traditional lands and waters of Protected Areas

2.5 Act to protect the environment without diminishing the Native Title rights and traditional land relationships of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people

2.6 Support indigenous traditional owners' role in the management of the natural values of an area and their authority regarding indigenous cultural heritage

2.7 Undertake actions calculated to sustain and improve existing Protected Areas, seek to increase the scale and environmental effectiveness of the protected area estate and mitigate the factors threatening biological diversity and cultural heritage

2.8 Ensure that when the Council proposes or engages in a new Protected Area or a Protected Area Management Plan that it proceeds with the understanding of the indigenous traditional owners and that its proposals address and incorporate Native Title rights

2.9 Undertake actions intended to secure core funding for Protected Areas, sufficient to ensure adequate environmental and cultural management and for the provision of interpretation, research, inventory, monitoring and adaptive management to maintain and, where necessary, restore values and integrity

2.10 Take measures to effect public policy for the good management of Protected Areas and for the culturally specific inclusion of indigenous traditional owners in developing Protected Area outcomes and benefits

2.11 Approach indigenous agencies with the aim of developing cooperative relationships and to inform of the Council's views and intentions regarding Protected Areas

2.12 Establish protocols with indigenous agencies about the Council's role in opposing developments considered harmful to an area's natural and cultural values or the long-term sustainable use of its resources

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 Schedule of interests

The Schedule of Interests covers -

3.1 Native Title and other indigenous rights

3.2 Protected Areas - the protection of biological diversity and natural and cultural heritage

3.3 Tenure of national parks and other Protected Areas

3.4 Management interests in Protected Areas

3.5 Partnership agreements for resolution of rights and management issues

3.6 Building cooperative management – legislative, institutional and community

The Schedule of Interests forms an attachment to this policy and may be applied, reviewed and amended as set forth in 4.2 "Monitoring and review of the policy and schedule".

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4.1 Adoption and application of Queensland Conservation Council policy

A policy passed by a vote of the members of the Queensland Conservation Council binds the Council, its Executive and agents in the conduct of affairs. A policy of the Council is to be applied consistently in all matters related to the subject of the policy.

In relation to member groups of the Council, membership gives rise to responsibilities as stated in the Articles of Association and requires that a member group behave in a manner that would not be considered injurious or prejudicial to the character and interests of the Council. The character and interests of the Council are reflected in its Objects and its Policies.

 4.2 Monitoring and review of the policy and schedule

The application of the Policy and the Schedule of Interests will be monitored and reviewed by Queensland Conservation Council and its member groups through forums established for the purpose. After consultation through a designated forum the Schedule of Interests may be updated or amended by a decision of the Council Executive, provided that any amendment is consistent with the Policy. Any changes shall be subject to review by a General Meeting of the Council. The Policy may only be amended by a decision of the Members

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Native title and protected areas project
E-mail: The project coordinator
Mail: QCC, PO Box 12046,
George Street Post Shop, Brisbane, 4003
Ph: 07 3221 0188 Fax: 07 3229 7992