Indigenous Protected Area: Moving toward stronger protection of country

30 October 2019

An area similar to the size of Fiji that lies in the heart of Arnhem Land is a step closer to becoming part of Australia’s national parks and reserves as an Indigenous Protected Area (IPA).

The Federal government has awarded Mimal Land Management more than $320,000 to support community consultation and planning toward dedicating more than 18,000 square kilometres of its management area in the Bulman community region as an IPA.

Mimal chairman John Dalywater says it’s a major win for country, culture and the nation’s biodiversity.

“We’re thrilled to work toward even stronger protection for country,” Mr Dalywater said.

“Our rangers have been working on country for 20 years, fighting weeds and feral animals, managing fire the traditional way like our ancestors and protecting our special cultural sites.

“It’s good government can see our hard work is paying off.”

Mimal’s chief executive officer Dominic Nicholls says the Federal government’s announcement is another endorsement its work is of national significance.

“Mimal was part of the founding West Arnhem Land Fire Abatement group that pushed for the return of traditional Indigenous fire management and developed the methodology, which lead the Federal government to set up the savanna fire abatement and carbon offset system.

“The savanna fire method has been a monumental game changer in Indigenous conservation and this represents another important step forward, offering greater protection and more resources to protect our nation’s precious natural and cultural assets.

“IPA’s play an important role in supporting our reserve system and will enable us to direct even more resources towards threatened ecological communities and species, such as the Northern Hopping-mouse, Northern Quoll, Gouldian Finch, Partridge Pigeon and Leichhardt’s Sawfish.

“Importantly, it will align with Mimal’s 10 year Healthy Country plan and vision for the region.”

Mr Nicholls said Mimal will spend the next two years consulting with land owners of more than 20 clans and with neighbouring IPA’s Warddeken, Djelk and the South East Arnhem Land IPA.

It will also consult with neighbouring Arafura Swamp Rangers (ASRAC), who have also been awarded government funds to work toward declaring an IPA in their area.

“The consultations will provide opportunity to strengthen partnerships, identify future projects and joint priorities as well as clarify shared management areas,” Mr Nicholls said.

“Mimal and ASRAC protected areas combined with neighbouring IPAs and Kakadu National Park will create one of the largest collectively-managed areas in the Australian national reserve system.

“The connected area will contribute to Australia’s national and international commitments to conservation as well as deliver social and cultural benefits in remote Australia, including employment, intergenerational knowledge transfer and support for language and culture.

“We congratulate all the recipients in this grant round and are particularly proud to be part of the group of four from the Northern Territory.”

Four out of the seven groups who received Federal funding in this grant round were from the Northern Territory: Mimal Land Management, Tiwi Land Council, Central Land Council and Arafura Swamp Rangers Aboriginal Corporation.