The Githabul Tribe, Githabul Nation Aboriginal Corporation, Githabul Elders and representatives of conservation groups will be holding a press conference at 11.30 am on Thursday 30 August in Kyogle to launch their Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for the management of Githabul Native Title Lands in the upper Clarence and Richmond Rivers.

On 29 November 2007 the Federal Court of Australia made a consent determination recognising the Githabul People’s Native Title rights and interests over 1120 sq km in 9 National Parks and 13 State Forests.

The MoU proposes:

  • Transferring care and control of 29,700ha State Forests for which Githabul Native Title rights are recognised, from the NSW government to the Githabul Tribe.
  • Preparing a comprehensive Plan of Management to safeguard conservation and cultural values and prioritise rehabilitation works.
  • Achieving an adequately funded comprehensive 15 year rehabilitation plan to arrest and repair forest dieback as part of a Githabul caring for country program.
  • Creating more NPWS positions and training for Githabul Working on Country in National Parks in the Kyogle area.
  • Transferring the care and control of Crown lands around the Tooloom Falls Aboriginal Place to the Githabul Tribe.
  • Promoting the establishment of a Cultural and Tourism Centre at Roseberry Creek.

Githabul spokesperson Rob Williams said:

It is important to understand and acknowledge that the health of the Githabul people in general is directly related to the health of the surrounding country and vice versa.

This philosophy underpins the Githabul wish to immediately arrest what is seen as a decline in the health of the forests and waterways over many decades now.

Such is our connection to country that we all suffer – along with the plants and animals. We still feel we have a direct responsibility to maintain the natural balance between all inter- related species including ourselves, as was done for millennia before the colonial invasion.

North East Forest Alliance spokesperson Dailan Pugh said:

The Forestry Corporation has already abandoned 11,000 hectares of these State Forests for timber production because of the chronic dieback they are suffering from past logging, and the balance of the Githabul lands are in an equally parlous state.

Already the Government is proposing that 5,600 ha of State Forests around Mount Lindesay be transferred to the management of NPWS as a Koala reserve, but without the massive funding needed to rehabilitate the forests.

The Githabul have a proven track-record in rehabilitating dieback areas and we are excited by the prospect of supporting their native title rights while helping to obtain the funding needed to scale up their rehabilitation works to stop the ongoing degradation and begin to restore the health of these internationally significant forests.

National Parks Association CEO Alix Goodwin said:

NPA is committed to protecting NSW public native forests for their biodiversity conservation values for future generations. Working with the Githabul to rehabilitate and restore almost 30,000 hectares on the north coast is a great start to achieving this vision.

The MOU also marks an important milestone in achieving the protection of important koala habitat in the Western Border Ranges, the connection of seven existing World Heritage properties and a recognised biodiversity hotspot under the stewardship of the local Aboriginal community.

We look forward to working with the Githabul to implement this MOU, the first NPA agreement with an Aboriginal community in over a decade.

Nature Conservation Council CEO Kate Smolksi said:

We believe that effective nature conservation and land justice for Indigenous Australians go hand in hand.

We welcome today’s announcement and hope this proves to be a successful model that can be adopted in other areas.

The MoU is an agreement between the Githabul Nation Aboriginal Corporation and Githabul Elders, and the North East Forest Alliance, North Coast Environment Council, National Parks Association, Nature Conservation Council, Nimbin Environment Centre, Lismore Environment Centre and Casino Environment Centre.

 

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