Cape York Peninsula Aboriginal freehold and national parks – agreements and achievements

Wednesday, 17 June 2015
Eric Wason
Carol Kinnaird

Traditional Owners on Cape York Peninsula and the Queensland Government have been converting State-owned properties to Aboriginal freehold and creating national parks (Cape York Peninsula Aboriginal land) (CYPAL) and nature refuges over areas of high conservation significance. 

In addition, existing national parks are being converted to national parks (CYPAL), with Aboriginal freehold as the underlying tenure.

Aboriginal landholders – that is, Aboriginal Corporations or Land Trusts – and the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service are jointly managing the national parks (CYPAL).

These tenures and land management arrangements are negotiated and agreed through Indigenous Land Use Agreements, Indigenous Management Agreements for national parks (CYPAL) and Conservation Agreements for nature refuges.

To date, there have been:

  • 21 Aboriginal freehold land transfers outside national parks (nearly 1.3 million hectares);
  • 16 existing national parks converted to national park (CYPAL) (nearly 1.4 million hectares);
  • 5 new national parks (CYPAL) (approximately 560,000 hectares); and
  • 17 nature refuges on Aboriginal freehold (nearly 260,000 hectares).

This paper outlines the legal framework, the agreements, the outcomes to date, some challenges and some practical strategies to address these challenges.