Council to sell controversial Daintree block to conservation groups


Karlie Brady


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Lot 83, Cape Tribulation Rd, located about 1km north of the northern banks of the Daintree Ferry crossing. Image: DSC.

Douglas Shire Council has resolved to sell a controversial block of land in the Daintree during a special council meeting today at Council Chambers in Mossman.

Council will sell Lot 83 Cape Tribulation Road to conservation groups, Queensland Trust for Nature and Rainforest Rescue, for $725,000, the same price at which Council purchased the lot for.

The 374-hectare parcel of land was purchased by the previous Council in October 2019 to expand Council’s environmental initiatives. At the time the decision to buy divided community opinion and received vocal opposition with many saying they felt there had not been enough community consultation. 

Douglas Shire Mayor Michael Kerr said the sale is a win-win and came about after the two organisations approached Council in July sharing their vision for the property.

“Queensland Trust for Nature and Rainforest Rescue plan to restore the degraded aspects of the property – around 80 to 100 hectares – to full rainforest,” he said.

“They’ll create a nursery which will provide training and learning opportunities for Indigenous rangers on country and have already been in discussions with Jabalbina about how the work can be delivered and open up employment opportunities for Eastern Kuku Yalanji people.”

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In moving the motion during today’s meeting, Mayor Kerr said, “this block of land, while contentious in its purchase by Council to many late last year, has highlighted the need for further consultation within the wider community on their want for the environmental projects that this council involves itself in, at the expense of the ratepayers.

“For me, this is another situation of a win-win for our Shire. Important and exciting environmental works can occur in this pristine area of the Daintree and the money originally used to purchase this block of land is returned in full to the ratepayers.”

“Now with a clean slate, this council can look forward towards the community consultation that it has planned, and get an absolute reading on the how, what, where, and how much our ratepayers wish to use of their money in this arena.”

Mayor Kerr along with Councillors Lisa Scomazzon and Peter McKeown voted in favour of the motion while Councillors Roy Zammataro and Abigail Noli voted against, citing their support for the original plan and environmental initiatives the previous Council had for the block.

Conservation group, Rainforest Rescue CEO, Branden Barber, said he is extremely pleased about this project and what it means for the Daintree and the wider community.

“At present, the Shire has capacity across existing nurseries to propagate around 25,000 rainforest seedlings each year which limits restoration opportunities,” Mr Barber said.

“Our aim is to increase this significantly.”

The land is currently tenanted by a grazier who runs 90 head of cattle on the lot.

Queensland Trust for Nature CEO, Stephen Lacey, said the cattle will remain there for the time being.

“We are looking at a 60 to 90-day settlement and this will cover the current lease arrangements,” Mr Lacey said.

“We will discuss with the lessee continuation of this arrangement until such time as we are ready to commence work.”

Mr Lacey said he is confident the property will become the epicentre of a new, community benefitting circular economy based on ecosystem services.

“We envisage conserving and rehabilitating this World Heritage area to such an extent that Douglas can claim the Daintree is one of the only rainforests in the world not in decline and is in fact growing,” Mr Lacey said.

See Monday's full special council meeting below:

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