World's oldest rainforest returned to Indigenous group in Australia
Daintree Rainforest, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, has been growing for 180 million years
Queensland, Australia's third most populous state, said on Wednesday it has given ownership of the world's oldest tropical rainforest to a local Indigenous group.
The Daintree Rainforest, listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1988, has been growing for 180 million years and is famed for its rich biodiversity but has come under sustained pressure from climate change and industries such as logging.
In striking a new deal to manage the rainforest, Queensland said the Daintree would be returned to the traditional owners of the land, the Eastern Kuku Yalanji people.
"This agreement recognizes their right to own and manage their country, to protect their culture and to share it with visitors as they become leaders in the tourism industry," Queensland Environment Minister Meaghan Scanlon said in a statement.
The deal is the first time Queensland has transferred the ownership of a national park in the Wet Tropics region of the state's northeast to an Indigenous group.
Australia's Uluru and Kakadu parks in the country's remote north are already owned by local Indigenous populations.