Daintree Rainforest is one of the topmost tourist attractions of Australia. Bordering the Great Barrier Reef, this ancient rainforest is sprawled across 600 square miles of area. Thanks to several rivers, gorges, waterfalls, and a long stretch of white sandy beaches, the forested national park is breathtakingly beautiful. Recently, the Australian Government has decided to hand over the area to the indigenous people, who have been the traditional residents of this area for generations.
The Queensland Ministry officials recently made the historic announcement to return the Daintree National Park to the Eastern Kuku Yalanji people, who are the aboriginal owners of the region. They are also one of the oldest living cultures in the world. After a 4-year long negotiation, the agreement was settled. It said that the UNESCO World Heritage Area Daintree National Park will eventually be solely managed by the Eastern Kuku Yalanji, protecting their culture.
Initially, the agreement transfers the managing right for Daintree’s 160 k hectares land, along with the Ngalba-bulal, Kalkajaka, and the Hope Islands National Parks. The additional three national parks are to be managed jointly with the Queensland Government. The total amount of retuned land is summed up to more than 3.8 million hectares, with 2.3 million hectares to be managed jointly by the community with the Government rangers. According to Environment Minister Meaghan Scanlon, the momentous agreement is resulted in a total of 32 native-owned and jointly managed national parks on the entire Cape York Peninsula.
Minister Scanlon explains that this handing-back agreement honors the right of owning and managing their own land of the traditional Cape York inhabitants, enabling them to freely practice and protect their own cultural heritage. The Government is also going to provide economic and technical aids to enrich the indigenous community in land and sea management, tourism, and research, in order to create more employment opportunities for them, making them the future leader of the Australian hospitality industry.
The Appalachia area has a decades-long history of toxic coal-mining which has done almost irreparable damage to the local ecosystems.
However, an ex-coal man wants to change this, and so far, he has planted over 187 million trees. Meet Angel who has been the driving force behind a re-greening of coal country that has given out-of-work miners a chance to undo the environmental damage that they contributed to during coal’s hay day.
Angel Started Working on His Project in 2002
After a 25-year career in OSM (Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement), Angel wanted to undo the harm done by his profession. He started small, encouraging the coal companies to pack rubble and plant grass on the remains of mountaintop blasting and strip mining sites.
However, in 2002, Angel noticed that the big trees were not returning to the area.
The Appalachian Regional Reforestation Initiative
After pursuing a Ph.D. at the University of Kentucky, Angel met Chris Barton – a young forestry professor who was studying how regrowing trees could solve frequent flooding problems. Angel, who was still working for OSM at the time, opened a new position to work on reforesting old strip mines and mountaintop removal sites.
It was Barton himself who filled the position. Together, the two partners created the Appalachian Regional Reforestation Initiative in 2004. Regulators from all levels of government, scientists, environmentalists, and even coal miners agreed that trees should be planted on mines.
Planting Trees vs Mining
Without a doubt, Angel and Barton’s journey hasn’t been easy. It’s no secret that planting trees is much less profitable than mining. Many have asked why someone would do the conversion.
The answer is simple.
The locals from West Virginia and Kentucky understand the beauty and importance of their forested homes. Also, it is illegal to close a mine without reforesting the area. Since there are no major environmental groups helping the area, someone has to do it.