Binthi Country nominated for Natural Heritage Listing
A dedicated group of Traditional Owners on the Cape York Peninsula have secured a valuable heritage listing nomination that will help protect their land and cultural values.
The Cape York Peninsula is Australia’s northernmost tip. The region boasts globally significant savannas and dune systems, stunning wetlands and rivers, extensive tropical rainforests and a rich diversity of fauna and flora.
It encompasses over 40% of the Great Barrier Reef’s coral reef area and more than 30% of its seagrass meadows, supporting some of the largest populations of dugongs in Australia and many critical turtles nesting sites.
The region’s remoteness, small population (<20,000 residents) and relatively limited development pressure has helped keep many of these values intact. However as more people visit Cape York, there are concerns about the increased threats to the region’s cultural and natural areas.
These include additional sediment entering waterways due to higher rates of road erosion, direct use pressures from visitation, as well as increasingly severe cyclones and extreme weather driven by climate change.
Binthi Country's striking parabolic dunes and lakes. Credit: Kerry Trapnell.
TOP IMAGE: Ramona and colleagues from Cape York NRM with the new Welcome to Binthi Country sign. Credit: Binthi Land Holding Group Aboriginal Corporation.
#A win for Binthi Country
Located just north of Cooktown is the region of Hope Vale, home to the 32 clans of the Guugu Yimithirr Nation. Binthi Land Holding Group Aboriginal Corporation (BLHGAC) is the trusted voice for the Binthi Warra clan. They are the custodians of their land, renowned as leaders in protecting the sacredness of their Country and shaping a sustainable world for future generations.
Binthi Country is situated in the McIvor and Morgan River catchments, inland from the Great Barrier Reef. It has outstanding cultural and natural values including internationally recognised wetlands and striking parabolic dunes. The lakes associated with these dunes create rare aquatic systems. The Binthi Warra is a proud host of this remarkable natural phenomenon.
Determined to protect their Country, the Binthi Land Holding Group Aboriginal Corporation applied to the federal government for Natural Heritage Listing in February 2022. This is Australia’s list of natural, historic and Indigenous places of outstanding significance to the nation.
The Government recently announced their application for the 2022/2023 Finalised Priority Assessment List was successful. BLHGAC’s nomination highlighted the place’s outstanding value to the nation because of its importance as part of Indigenous tradition. This is a huge win for BLHGAC. Through this process they will be able to share Traditional Ecological Knowledge for collaborative decisions for better management planning and strategies.
“National Heritage Listing is very important to us to develop education for cultural maintenance and recognition for our Country to work towards proactive management,” says Ramona McIvor of Binthi Land Holding Group Aboriginal Corporation.
Ramona McIvor on Binthi Country. Supplied: Ramona McIvor
#Strengthening Traditional Owner voices through community action
This outcome formed part of our Cape York Community Action Plan (CAP), a pilot program that brings together community to protect the Great Barrier Reef by identifying shared goals, priorities and taking action to maximise the impact of collaborative community projects.
The CAP, which was developed in 2020 by Cape York Natural Resource Management and South Cape York Catchments, ran seven workshops in Hope Vale, Wujal Wujal and Cooktown for Traditional Owners, youth and community members to contribute their ideas, aspirations, and priorities for the protection of the Great Barrier Reef.
One of its key impacts has been strengthening Traditional Owner leadership and voice. The CAP planning process involved over 50 Traditional Owners from eight groups and produced six Traditional Owner-led strategy roadmaps, which outline a clear path to impact for local actions.
The CAP development process strengthened relationships with Queensland Government to help catalyse opportunities for Indigenous ranger roles, with one group undertaking training and establishing compliance officers on Country.
Binthi Land Holding Group Aboriginal Corporation developed a Healthy Country Plan to unite their voices, pave the way in protecting Country, and leverage additional funding.
A new ‘Welcome to Binthi Country’ sign was installed and is already having a positive impact on the community. The sign provides cultural and historical information, and highlights the traditional hunting practices of the ‘caring and sharing hunters’, who take what is needed according to the seasonal plant calendar.
“We’re very grateful for what the CAP has done to help us. It’s legacy, our clan, our elder’s legacy for us to look after. The stories of Binthi are exemplary at a national level, we’ve got unique stories of our natural and cultural values,” says Ramona.
To learn more about the Cape York Community Action Plan, see our case study here.