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Illegal logging prosecution delivers support for Traditional Owners to return to Country

Emma Ruben -

Eastern Kuku-Yalanji Traditional Owners have thrown their support behind the prosecution of illegal logging on Wet Tropics Country.

In November, QLD Logging Pty Ltd pled guilty to unlawfully felling 28 trees and clearing vegetation for access tracks at Shipton's Flat near Rossville, within the Area.

The company were harvesting timber to help a small group of Traditional owners contruct houses.

The Eastern Kuku-Yalanji Traditional Owners have called for the government to provide better help for those hoping to return to live on Country and better manage native title lands.

The company was sentenced November 8 in the Cairns Magistrates Court and ordered to pay a $10,000 fine and $2000 to the Department of Environment and Science in court costs.

The sentencing comes after a two-year investigation by the Department of Environment and Science found the logging company had harvested timber to help a small group the group of Traditional Owners.

Jabalbina Yalanji Aboriginal Corporation is the Registered Native Title Body Holder for the Eastern Kuku Yalanji People.

JYAC chair, Michelle Friday, said Jabalbina supports this prosecution.

"Jabalbina fully supports the successful prosecution of people seeking to commit crimes on Eastern Yalanji Native Title land and the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area," she said.

"We are an organisation that strongly believes in protecting the environment on our lands.

"We are here to support Eastern Yalanji to Care for Country, and not to exploit

the country for individual gain."

The site illegally logged was part of an area that is World Heritage listed.

Ms Friday said they want to work with Traditional Owners to help them return to Country.

"This was not done in the right way. Jabalbina wants to work with the Traditional Owners to return to Country and to develop commercial opportunities in a way that helps on Eastern Yalanji People," she said.

"This can be frustrating, to say the least. We need to have a better management strategy to support our people's aspirations and ensure we look after country for future generations."

Jabalbina Yalanji Aboriginal Corporation general manager Joshua Paterson said they want to develop a comprehensive management strategy for Native Title lands.

"We need to support Traditional Owners in returning to their Country but to do so in way that does not see these types of offences occurring," he said.

The Wet Tropics Management Authority is working with the Jabalbina Yalanji Aboriginal Corporation to support a planned return to country.

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