Mimal Land Management has joined celebrations marking the 20th anniversary of Indigenous Protected Areas in Australia.
Mimal met with the representatives from all sides of Australian politics - Federal Environment Minister Melissa Price, Senator Tim Storer, Senator Malarndirri McCarthy and Senator Rachel Siewert - and the Country Needs People alliance and Indigenous ranger groups at a barbeque at Parliament House in Canberra.
The celebrations highlighted the expansion of Australia’s national reserves through Indigenous Protected Areas (IPAs), which make up more than half of Australia’s protected areas.
There are currently 75 IPAs across 68 million hectares, the area equivalent to ten times the size of Tasmania.
Mimal board chairman John Dalywater says it was great to be a part of celebrations that highlight the role Indigenous Protected Areas play in the nation.
“It’s great government recognises IPAs are a vital way Aboriginal people can contribute to Australia’s network of national parks and reserves,” Mr Dalywater said.
“Aboriginal people protected the Australian landscape for more than 65,000 years, before colonisation.
“We have so much knowledge about country and joining with western science means we’re a strong force in protecting Australia’s natural resources - from the trees and plants to the birds and animals.”
As part of celebrations, Mimal joined calls for the Federal Government to double funding and lock in long term certainty for Indigenous Protected Areas.
Mimal chief executive officer Dominic Nicholls says the varied work of Indigenous rangers is often out of sight, but is vital to Australia.
“Many people don’t get to see first hand the work Indigenous Rangers do, but they do a lot of work that helps people in their community, their region and nationally,” Mr Nicholls said.
“With fire, our rangers not only manage savannah landscape through controlled burning, thereby reducing emissions, but they also fight wildfires that sweep across massive tracts of land.
“People don’t hear about these fires because they’re not threatening people and homes - but annually these fires contribute a large proportion to the nation’s overall emissions.
“So by preventing fires from spreading, rangers protect the fresh air we all want to breathe while also directly helping address the impacts of climate change.
“We see the huge environmental, cultural and social benefits IPAs bring and are moving to establish one ourselves.”
The Federal Threatened Species Commissioner Dr Sally Box also attended celebrations and acknowledged the work IPAs play.
“I have seen first hand the important role that Indigenous rangers and traditional owners play in protecting threatened species,” Dr Box wrote on Facebook.
“From managing fire, tackling feral cats, to protecting threatened species and preventing the spread of invasive weeds, IPAs are critical in the fight against extinction.”
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