Nature conservation

Parks, reserves and protected areas

How is a lease-back agreement established?

To complete a lease-back agreement, the following conditions must apply:

1. The Aboriginal people seeking the lease-back agreement must be registered as the Aboriginal owners of the land.

The Aboriginal owners are those people who are registered with the Aboriginal Land Rights Act Registrar as having a cultural association with the land. Aboriginal owners have an on-going role in the management of the park or reserve through a board of management, which has majority Aboriginal owner representation, and the land is held by the local Aboriginal land council (LALC) on their behalf. To have your name entered on the register, please contact the Registrar.

2. Either:

The land must be registered as having particular cultural significance for Aboriginal people. Schedule 14 of the National Parks and Wildlife Act includes a list of parks and reserves of particular cultural significance to Aboriginal people, which can be returned to the LALC to hold on behalf of the Aboriginal owners. The Act describes 'significant' in terms of Aboriginal traditions, observances, customs, beliefs or history.


The Aboriginal Land Rights Act 1983 has provisions that allows that, where a land claim by a Local Aboriginal Land Council is needed for the essential public purpose of nature conservation, with the Land Council's agreement it can be resolved via the grant of the land claim to the Land Council subject to the creation of a reserve under the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974, which is then leased back to the NSW Government.


How a lease-back agreement is negotiated

Members of the LALC and the Minister for the Environment agree to enter into negotiations. An Aboriginal negotiating panel, representing Aboriginal people with a cultural association with the land, may be appointed by the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs for this process.

When agreement is reached, ownership of the park is transferred to the LALC, which holds it on behalf of the Aboriginal owners and a lease is signed. A board of management is appointed and the care, control and management of the park is transferred from the Director General of the NPWS to the board.

The board's 11 to 13 members are made up of the Aboriginal owners (in the majority) and one representative each from the LALC, the NPWS, a local conservation group, local government and adjoining land holders. This board will determine how the park will be managed and draw up a plan of management and the NPWS maintains its management responsibilities in partnership with the board.

The LALC, the Aboriginal negotiating panel and the NPWS negotiate an agreed value for the lease. If agreement is not reached, and mediation is unsuccessful, the Valuer General makes a determination of the amount of rent to be paid. Once the lease is agreed and signed, the government pays rent into a special account that the board uses for park management.

Page last updated: 27 February 2011