Greens NSW environment spokesperson Cate Faehrmann and the party’s Lismore candidate Sue Higginson have announced a $31.5 million ten-year plan to transfer care and control of almost 30,000 hectares of state forests north of Kyogle to the Githabul Tribe.
The announcement comes after Ms Faehrmann and Ms Higginson travelled with Githabul Rangers to see their ongoing work rehabilitating and repairing the Toonumbar State Forest, where Githabul Native Title rights are recognised.
They say the program, which has been operating for over 10 years, has made significant inroads to address alarming levels of Bell Miner Associated Dieback (BMAD) in eucalypt forest and rainforest areas following intensive logging.
In 2007 the Githabul were granted Native Title over 1,120 square kilometres in nine national parks and 13 state forests in the headwaters of the Richmond and Clarence Rivers.
After years of watching Forestry Corporation continue to destroy their forests, in 2016 the Githabul blockaded them and logging has not recommenced in the area.
Ms Higginson said it was ‘clear that the Githabul love their lands and are deeply connected to them’.
‘This plan is about recognising and supporting the incredible work they are already doing to repair and regenerate their Native Title Lands. It is about improving ecological and cultural connections across the region and halting the alarming progression of BMAD in our forests.
‘This is an exciting opportunity to increase employment, deepen cultural understanding, promote tourism and protect an ecological jewel.’
Ms Faehrmann said many of the forests in the headwaters of the Richmond river were ‘in a terrible state due to years of unsustainable logging and weed infestation’.
‘It was inspiring to see the positive progress of the Githabul Rangers to rehabilitate these forests.
‘I am proud to announce the Greens support for this historic plan to give the Githabul greater care and control of their Native Title lands and I urge all parties to step up and commit to funding this plan.’
The Greens plan to expand the program includes:
- Transferring care and control of 29,700 hectares of state forests for which Githabul Native Title rights are recognised from the NSW Government to the Githabul Tribe.
- Transferring the care and control of Crown lands around the Tooloom Falls Aboriginal Place to the Githabul Tribe.
- Providing $30 million to implement a comprehensive 10-year plan to rehabilitate the land, including arresting and repairing BMAD (on top of $1.4 million a year of existing Commonwealth Caring for Country funding).
- Granting $1.5m for the establishment of a Githabul Cultural and Tourism Centre on Githabul land at Roseberry Creek.
- Assisting in the preparation of a comprehensive Plan of Management to safeguard conservation and cultural values and prioritise rehabilitation works.
Approximately 7,151 ha (24 per cent) of Githabul State Forests and 6,385 ha (8 per cent) of Githabul National Parks are significantly affected by Bell Miner Associated Dieback which causes mature eucalypt trees to die, often suddenly. The Githabul are halting this spread by clearing lantana to reduce Bell Miner bird populations and regenerating affected land.