This book is a tribute by the Australian Government to the work of Indigenous communities managing land and sea country.
Indigenous Protected Areas are one of Australia’s conservation success stories – protecting culture and country, while providing a pathway to meaningful jobs and positive health, education and social benefits. Today there are 55 Indigenous Protected Areas protecting more than 43 million hectares across Australia. An Indigenous Protected Area (IPA) is an area of Indigenous-managed land or sea voluntarily dedicated by its traditional owners to be managed to promote biodiversity and cultural resource conservation.
Indigenous Protected Areas make up about one third of Australia’s National Reserve System - protecting our diverse range of plants and animals for future generations.
This book presents a snapshot of the Indigenous Protected Area program on its 15th anniversary and highlights the important contributions Indigenous Protected Areas make to the environment and culture of the nation.
Helping to protect threatened species, under-represented bioregions and link conservation areas together, Indigenous Protected Areas comprise nearly a third of the National Reserve System. They are also a critical part of wildlife corridors such as the proposed Trans-Australian Eco-link – an internationally significant initiative that will stretch 3500 kilometres across the continent.
Indigenous Protected Areas are supported by the Australian Government’s Indigenous Protected Area program and around half have ranger groups funded by a related Working on Country program. A number of Indigenous Protected areas have also developed mutually beneficial partnerships with other conservation organisations and local community groups.
- The Indigenous Protected Areas program, developed in 1997 after two years of consultation with traditional owners and Indigenous organisations, supports Indigenous Australians to voluntarily dedicate and manage their land for conservation.
- Our country has been managed by Indigenous people in a sustainable way for tens of thousands of years and its ecosystems have been shaped by this interaction, particularly the use of fire. Since European settlement, more than 50 animals and 60 plants have become extinct.
- Indigenous Protected Areas include bioregions that are under-represented in national parks and protect many of Australia’s threatened species.
- The recognition of cultural landscapes by the World Heritage Convention reflects a growing trend towards taking a more holistic view of the environment.
- The Indigenous Protected Area program supports traditional owners to conserve and renew their cultural landscapes.
Today many Indigenous Protected Areas are building on Australian Government support by developing businesses that operate alongside conservation. Tourism provides additional income and jobs for areas that are a destination in their own right or lie on an established tourist route. A number of ranger groups are currently operating tourist campgrounds and providing cultural and natural tours.