Give Indigenous Australians Greater Control Over Land Management

by Tony Sinclair

Just when it seems indigenous issues have been sidelined again following high-profile interventions and apologies, there's been a quiet victory for both conservation and Aboriginal land rights on the NSW south coast.

Loggers have been ordered to stop felling trees on Mumbulla Mountain, near Bega.

Not only is Mumbulla a sacred Aboriginal site; 100 hectares of virgin forest was at stake, to make woodchips for paper export.

Native home to 50 koalas, the Federal Government's preservation order has saved the colony from extinction following months of protest from local indigenous groups, attended by several hundred people.

The victory follows claims of State Government incompetence after news broke that evidence of the koala colony dating to 1986 had been ignored by the Environment Minister.

Logging has ceased after just two weeks of operation, and there have been calls for greater indigenous control and management of the natural environment.

With a culture of land management spanning millenia, such a proposal would be a big step for conservation and respect to traditional owners.

If enacted, with conditions banning re-sale or construction on land handed to traditional owners, an Aboriginal land management bill would turn a quiet victory in NSW into a big win nationwide for native conservation and indigenous land rights.

Do you agree?

-Tony S.

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