Aboriginal conservation in Arnhem Land

By AG STAFF 29 August 2012
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These Indigenous Protected Areas are stunning landscapes in Australia’s Top End.

THE INDIGENOUS PROTECTED AREA program has been remarkably successful at helping traditional owners contribute to Australia’s National Reserve System.

A network of 51 IPAs now covers an area similar in size to Japan (365,000sq.km) and makes up almost one-third of the NRS, which also includes national parks, state reserves and protected private land. Some individual IPAs, such as the Southern Tanami in the NT, are larger than entire European countries.

An IPA is an area of land or sea that has been dedicated by its traditional owners to conservation and sustainable resource use in agreement with the Australian government. It’s different from other Aboriginal land, because traditional owners will manage it in line with World Conservation Union (IUCN) standards.

IPAs are also developed to maintain culture and bring traditional owners back to their land, as well as develop skills, provide employment and find income sources. Management remains with traditional owners, who are assisted by scientists and business managers to ensure conservation standards are met.


THE DJELK IPA includes coastal landscapes, estuaries, wetlands and tropical savannahs. Its 6732sq.km covers the land of 102 Aboriginal clans and 12 language groups marking it out as a place of remarkable cultural diversity. Read more about Djelk here.
Northern  Arnhem Land, NT 
Established: 2009
Size: 6732sq.km 
Threatened species: Arnhem Land rock-rat, black wallaroo, white-throated grasswren


THE WARDDEKEN IPA, bordering Kakadu National Park, covers an area just one-fifth the size of Tasmania and is rich in ancient art sites, rare plant and animal species, and pristine habitats. Read more about Warddeken here.
Western Arnhem Land, NT 
Established: 2009
Size: 13,704sq.km 
Threatened species: bustard, northern quoll, black wallaroo, Arnhem Land rock-rat, Oenpelli python