In Paris last night the World Heritage Committee added Koongarra area to the Kakadu World Heritage listing. For more than 10 years Djok traditional owner Jeffrey Lee and his neighbouring clans, including the Mirrar people, have fought to permanently conserve this area.
The 1,228 hectare Koongarra was excluded from Kakadu National Park’s original boundaries in 1979 because of its potential uranium resources. Jeff was in Paris this week to hear the decision and told the committee exactly what the listing meant to him.
“I would like to thank the World Heritage Committee for inscribing Koongarra, my country, on the World Heritage List. Thank you for talking about this and for listening to my words. I have waited a very long time for this to happen and it comes as a very happy feeling for me to see all of us looking after this place,” Jeff said.
“I am supported by all the Bininj clans of Kakadu and most particularly by neighbouring clans such as the Mirarr People, through their representative body the Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation, representatives of which are here with me at this meeting.
“I want to ensure that the traditional laws, customs, sites, bush tucker, trees, plants and water at Koongarra stay the same as when they were passed on to me by my father and great-grandfather. Inscribing the land at Koongarra as World Heritage is an important step in making this protection lasting and real.”
See what Australia’s Environment Minister Tony Burke had to say about Koongarra. See what Jeffrey Lee had to say about Koongarra just before World Heritage meeting.