- Agreement reached on Bunuba Indigenous Land Use Agreement
- National Native Title Tribunal registration will allow for the creation of the national park
Proposed national parks in the Fitzroy River area are one step closer to being finalised following the historic ceremonial signing to progress an Indigenous Land Use Agreement (ILUA) with the Bunuba People.
The area will be jointly managed by the Bunuba Dawangarri Aboriginal Corporation and the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions (DBCA) on behalf of the State Government.
For the local traditional owners, the river is a living ancestral being.
The Fitzroy River catchment has significant cultural, environmental, and economic values. Some parts of the catchment are within the West Kimberley National Heritage Place.
The creation of the proposed park in the Fitzroy River area will extend the existing Danggu Geikie Gorge National Park along the Fitzroy River, north to Dimond Gorge.
Today's milestone was facilitated by the McGowan Government's investment of more than $25 million for the creation and management of national parks, marine parks and other conservation reserves under the flagship Plan for Our Parks initiative.
Once the ILUA is registered by the National Native Title Tribunual, it will allow for the creation of 172,892 hectares of new conservation estate and ensure the area's unique values are protected and enjoyed for many generations.
As part of the national park creation process, neighbouring pastoralists were consulted and provided with the opportunity to discuss boundaries, access to water, bores, fencing, and to ensure that opportunities for diversification are not adversely impacted by the park.
Comments attributed to Environment Minister Stephen Dawson:
"The Fitzroy River and its surrounds are a uniquely special place for traditional owners who have, and always will, play an integral role in the protection and management of this significant natural asset.
"The McGowan Government is committed to working with traditional owners to foster enhanced consultation and strong joint management partnerships for the benefit of the environment, culture, jobs, training, regional economies and society at large.
"The McGowan Government stands by its commitment to not let the Fitzroy River or its tributaries be dammed. The protection of the natural flow of the river is paramount.
"As we continue on the path to recovery following the COVID-19 pandemic, the McGowan Government is working to invigorate the tourism industry and encourage people to 'Wander out Yonder'. The investment in Plan for Our Parks is providing even more tourism opportunities for all Australians and international visitors when the time comes."
Comments attributed to Aboriginal Affairs Minister Ben Wyatt:
"This ILUA builds on the strong existing joint management partnership between Bunuba Traditional Owners and DBCA that manages the environmental and cultural values of the existing conservation reserves.
"The State Government is looking forward to continuing this partnership with traditional owners and supporting innovative economic development opportunities for Aboriginal communities to stay connected to country and maximise the benefits from land and natural assets."