Indigenous joint management of national parks to expand

Environment Minister James Griffin said a new model could lead to title being returned to all of NSW’s national parks, which cover almost 10% of NSW, over a 15-20 year period.

“Already over 30% of the NSW National Parks estate is under joint management, but Aboriginal people currently hold title or native title to just over 4% of it,” Mr. Griffin said.

“Expanding the joint management model in this way would be a historic step that no other Australian jurisdiction and few other countries, if any, have taken.

“It puts the management and stewardship of Indigenous lands at the heart of our efforts to conserve our precious environment and care for our country.

“The expansion of Indigenous co-management will be an important and practical step towards the goals of reconciliation and closing the gap, as it improves Indigenous employment and business opportunities, while strengthening the role of Indigenous peoples in decision-making, cultural heritage protection and park management.

The consultation process is expected to last 18 months and will involve engagement with Indigenous communities and a wide range of stakeholders with an interest in national parks.

Under a new model, the public will have continued access to national parks, and transfers of title would be subject to a long-term leaseback of land at nominal rent to the government.

A proposed model that involves improving employment and business opportunities for Indigenous people will be released for public comment and a final model will be reviewed by government after extensive consultation.

Indigenous Affairs Minister Ben Franklin said the New South Wales government will seek input from indigenous peoples on how to make joint management arrangements work best for them.

“Developing a new co-management model is one way to make meaningful progress in improving outcomes for Indigenous peoples and communities in New South Wales,” Franklin said.

“It’s about reconnecting people to the country, aligning with Indigenous title processes, and integrating Indigenous knowledge into the care of the country as they have done for tens of thousands of years.

New South Wales is proud to have pioneered Indigenous co-management. The first joint management agreement came into effect in 1998 in Mutawintji National Park near Broken Hill, and Arakwal National Park in Byron Bay was Australia’s first national park to be managed under an aboriginal land use agreement.

The level of investment in fire management, wildlife control, visitor infrastructure and the protection of endangered species is currently at record levels in the NSW National Parks area.

A new model will build on these efforts to ensure land management techniques remain best practice, while allowing continued public access and visitation.

Learn more about the consultation process and existing joint management arrangements in NSW National Parks

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