Traditional Owners have a long history of supporting the protection of rivers in the Channel Country.
At the Lake Eyre Basin Aboriginal Forum, held on 13-15th September 2011 in Tibooburra, members of the Mithaka, Wangkangurra, Yarluyandi, Kulalli and Iningai Traditional Owner groups put 6 recommendations to the forum to gauge support for the Wild Rivers legislation.
After strong support from forum representatives, two more recommendations were added.
The eight recommendations arising from the 2011 LEB Aboriginal Forum called on the Queensland Government to:
- Declare the Cooper Creek, Georgina and Diamantina Rivers as Wild River Areas under the Wild Rivers Act.
- Commit resources for Traditional Owner Rangers in the three river basins under its policy to deliver 100 Indigenous Wild River Rangers; starting with 5 rangers (including ranger coordinators) for each of the three river basins - 15 Indigenous rangers in total.
- Support and resource an Aboriginal organisation which reflects their governance structure to oversee the Wild Rivers Rangers program within the Cooper Creek, Georgina and Diamantina Rivers for the Aboriginal Traditional Owners of these water systems.
- Incorporate water allocations under each Wild River declaration to Aboriginal water allocation and for Traditional Owners to decide its use.
- Maintain the Aboriginal heritage and cultural landscapes of the three Wild River areas, by supporting management in accordance with the Aboriginal traditions and customs for the areas. (Joint Management)
- Exclude coal seam gas and shale gas projects, along with other mining and resource extraction, from the High Preservation Areas and Special Floodplain Management areas; and strongly regulate coal seam gas and shale gas activities in the Preservation Areas.
- Ensure sustainable pastoral activity in the Wild River areas by committing Land Protection Officers to monitor and restrict overstocking.
- Call on the South Australian/New South Wales/Northern Territory governments to support the protection of the LEB region with a commitment to Wild River-type legislation.
Strong support from Traditional Owners was a major factor in the Bligh Government's decision to protect the Cooper, Diamantina and Georgina systems.