Tom Wessels, MA
Department of Environmental Studies
Land rights for indigenous groups is becoming a priority in countries throughout the world. In Australia, there is no Commonwealth directive for land rights, some individual states have formulated their own legislation. The recent enactment of legislation in Queensland has provided the possibility for Aboriginal groups to claim their traditional land, including land that is currently national park. A successful claim would also provide hunting and gathering rights for traditional owners. Some conservationists protest the action; they have worked to safeguard ecosystems through national park designation and now feel that these areas are at risk of exploitation. One potential for solution lies in establishing a co-management scheme that ensures indigenous rights to own and manage, but also establishes a framework to protect the integrity of threatened and vulnerable habitats and assures the maintenance of biodiversity.