Involvement in World Heritage

Aboriginal use and management of the Wet Tropics landscape has shaped the ecosystems of the Wet Tropics region over thousands of years. Practices such as fire management, hunting and gathering, and harvesting of materials for shelter, tools, ceremony or art are essential for the maintenance of Aboriginal culture.

For the Wet Tropics Management Authority, the conservation of World Heritage values is linked with that of Aboriginal cultural and spiritual values. Management of the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area needs to consider the traditional knowledge and expertise of Rainforest Aboriginal Peoples as being interconnected with contemporary natural resource management.

Empowering Rainforest Aboriginal Peoples as the traditional Custodians of the Area’s natural and cultural values and engaging collaborative stewardship within the Area is an important part of protecting and promoting these assets now and for future generations.

Rainforest Aboriginal Engagement Strategy

The purpose of the Rainforest Aboriginal Engagement Strategy is to improve the way the Authority engages, to involve Rainforest Aboriginal Peoples in World Heritage management.

The Strategy directly connects to the key themes and recommendations of the 'Which Way Our Cultural Survival' report and the Regional Agreement and more recent planning processes.

The principles guiding the Authority’s engagement with Rainforest Aboriginal Peoples include:

Indigenous land interests
Photographer: CSIRO

- Being a culturally responsible lead agency in collaboration with Rainforest Aboriginal Peoples and the broader network, to ensure accountability to our commitments.

- Improving the way we do things by moving towards a better understanding of ‘good practice’ and strengthening enabling conditions for a rights-based approach to World Heritage conservation.

- Empowering Rainforest Aboriginal Peoples to progress their agendas on their terms.

- Showcasing good practice and success stories with a specific focus on different aspects of rights-based approaches.

Respect logo (landscape)
Photographer: WTMA Images

Sustainable livelihoods

The Authority supports collaborative projects that contribute to the social, economic and cultural development of Rainforest Aboriginal Peoples and the conservation and presentation of the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area.

There are opportunities for Rainforest Aboriginal Peoples to:

- Get involved in the Wet Tropics Tour Guide Program, training and network events.
- Provide input into scientific research protocols to guide research activities and outcomes in the World Heritage Area.
- Develop strategies and products for presenting and promoting the Wet Tropics cultural landscape.
-  Strengthen partnerships with the tourism industry and support emerging Aboriginal enterprises.

World Heritage partnerships

The Authority supports projects, activities and events that empower Rainforest Aboriginal Peoples to implement            on-country management activities within and adjacent to the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area.

There are opportunities for Rainforest Aboriginal Peoples to:

- Ask for the Authority's support towards Indigenous planning processes e.g. country based plans, master plans, and Indigenous Protected Areas.

- Formalise partnership arrangements within the World Heritage Area through Indigenous Land Use Agreements (ILUAs) and Cooperative Management Agreements (CMAs) - may include working groups for involvement in National Park management.

- Apply for Rainforest Aboriginal Grants from the Authority and Terrain to implement collaborative projects and support learning, mentoring between Rainforest Aboriginal Peoples (including through Indigenous Ranger programs).

- Promote good news stories through the Rainforest Aboriginal News (RAN) and an annual People Country Culture Calendar.

- Participate in yellow crazy ant program taskforce activities to help with eradication efforts and get involved in other community group activities or events around the region.

Cultural recognition

The Authority facilitates discussions with Rainforest Aboriginal Peoples and other government agencies about the National Heritage Listing of Indigenous values and strengthening recognition of Aboriginal tradition in the management of Area and the potential World Heritage Listing of cultural values.

There are opportunities for Rainforest Aboriginal Peoples to:

- Help improve the cultural capability of the Authority (and other agencies) by offering fee for service cultural awareness training on-country.

- Apply for positions with the Authority and support the involvement of Rainforest Aboriginal people on the Board, Community Consultative Committee (CCC) and Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC).

- Have a say in the review of the Wet Tropics Management Plan 1998  to promote the recognition of Aboriginal tradition and the significant role that Rainforest Aboriginal Peoples play in cultural and natural resource management in the World Heritage Area.

- Participate in upcoming processes (e.g. regional forums and/or working groups) to develop a joint action plan to progress Regional Agreement commitments through contemporary governance arrangements (in partnership with other agencies).

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