In a groundbreaking move, the Queensland state government will create two water reserves on Minjerribah (North Stradbroke Island), giving traditional owners control over thousands of megalitres of water.

The decision means the Quandamooka people will have access to 61,190 megalitres of water originally set aside for sand mining.

Half of it will be set aside for environmental and cultural use, with the other half being used on rehabilitation and economic opportunity.

State Water Minister Glenn Butcher has told the Guardian Australia, the reserves “are important for the future environmental health of the island and its ongoing rehabilitation”.

They also provide future economic opportunities for the Quandamooka people and support ongoing cultural values.

Chief executive of the Quandamooka Yoolooburrabee Aboriginal Corporation (QYAC), Stephen Wright said he was “pleased” the state recognises “the Quandamooka people as the Traditional Custodians of Minjerribah’s land and waters”.

QYAC has been trying to secure greater protection of the region.

Last year’s annual report shows the corporation is working with the Queensland and federal government to secure a world heritage listing for the region.

“World Heritage status of Quandamooka djara will provide added protection to our unique wildlife and heritage, and list it amongst the most unique in the world.”

Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons Tanya Dedyukhina