Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Traditional Owners and WWF to sign new conservation partnership

Traditional Owners and WWF to sign new conservation partnership

An agreement between Traditional Owners in North Queensland and WWF will be signed today at Airlie Beach marking the start of an Indigenous conservation program that will see greater protection for the region's marine turtles, dugongs and inshore dolphins.
The agreement between the Gudjuda Reference Group and WWF will create a spirit of collaboration between the two organisations and advance the capacity of Traditional Owners to conserve and protect their land and sea resources.
The Gudjuda Reference Group represents Traditional Owners from the Bindal, Ngaro and Juru nations on the Great Barrier Reef coast. Their region covers an area from the Whitsunday Islands up to Townsville.
"This agreement acknowledges the shared desire to conserve wildlife and habitats in this naturally abundant part of the country, as well as the recognition that the Gudjuda Reference Group are the key stewards of their lands and seas," said WWF's Conservation on Country Policy Manager Cliff Cobbo.
The partnership will focus on the conservation of marine turtles, dugongs and inshore dolphins among other things. This will include generating greater awareness in traditional communities of the protection and conservation of these species, greater support for Indigenous turtle tagging and dugong monitoring programs, and the establishment of Indigenous Protected Areas in important turtle, dugong and inshore dolphin habitats.
"At the heart of this agreement is belief that the earth's natural systems, resources and life forms should be conserved for their intrinsic value and for the benefit of future generations," said Gudjuda Chairman Eddie Smallwood.
"But the agreement also recognises that the Gudjuda Traditonal Owners have the right to improve the quality of their lives and to benefit directly and equitably from the conservation and sustainable use of natural resources in our traditional lands and seas."
In addition to the promotion of conservation activities in the region, the partnership aims to provide greater access for Traditional Owners to their traditional lands and seas and create opportunities through direct funding for activities such as the creation of ranger groups.
The Memorandum of Understanding will be signed at 1pm on Saturday December 12 in Airlie Beach today.

More information

Charlie StevensMedia Manager – Queensland, WWF-Australia,
Mobile: 0424 649 689
Cliff CobboConservation on Country Policy Manager, WWF-Australia,
Mobile: 0406 384 288
Eddie SmallwoodGudjuda Chairman,
Mobile: 0428 996 398


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