The Daintree is the world’s oldest rainforest, believed to be 180 million years old. The area, which is home to over 3,000 plant species, 107 animals, 368 birds, and 113 reptile species, comprises a biosphere with ancient connections.
The Daintree was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1988, thanks to an Australian federal drive that helped to derail the Queensland state government’s efforts to encourage land removal and cultivation in the region. Traditional owners, however, were not consulted.
The Eastern Kuku Yalanji community had its aboriginal title, which provides the least control of indigenous land ownership. Most of the land was recognized legally in 2007, but it took years of negotiations to gain control of the national parks.
The four parks will be jointly maintained by the Eastern Kuku Yalanji community and the Queensland government under the new pact, the first of its type for a World Heritage Park.
The Queensland government will relinquish possession of Daintree National Park to the Eastern Kuku Yalanji, an aboriginal community that has lived in Australia’s rainforests for at least 50,000 years, in September 2021. Since the transfer, the Eastern Kuku Yalanji people and the Queensland Government have jointly maintained the national parks of Daintree, Ngalba-bulal, Kalkajaka, and the Hope Islands.
Many plants in the Daintree have lineages that researchers had linked back millions of years ago to when numerous continents were united as Gondwana. Daintree is home to seven of the world’s oldest surviving fern species, as well as 12 of the world’s 19 most ancient flowering plants.
The Great Dividing Range’s high escarpments and peaks play an essential part in fueling the rainfall in Daintree. Orographic lifting propels air up and over the mountains when moisture-laden winds pour in from the Coral Sea. Water vapour starts to cool, forms clouds, and rains as a result of this process.
This single environment supports 65% of Australia’s fern species, 60% of its butterflies, and 50% of its bird species.
The endangered southern cassowary, a huge, flightless ratite with a blue head, two red wattles, and a striking dinosaur-like bony casque on its head, is among the birds. Cassowaries, the world’s third-biggest bird, have the beneficial habit of dispersing and establishing at least 70 different species of trees as they search for fallen fruit.