Last updated 27 May 2016 

Location of our Warddeken Partnership.Established: 2007
Area: 1,395,000 hectares
Location: 230 km east of Darwin, 30km west of Jabiru

The Arnhem Plateau is a region of spectacular stone and gorge country north and east of Kakadu national Park. The area is richly biodiverse, having been geologically stable for millions of years. It has numerous, diverse refuges that protect plants and animals from fires and climate shifts.

Mary Kolkiwarra, Warddeken Professor, collects ankodjbang (water peanut) from a freshwater stream.

Mary Kolkiwarra, Warddeken Professor, collects ankodjbang (water peanut) from a freshwater stream. Photo © David Hancock.

The plateau has been inhabited for tens of thousands of years, and Traditional Owners represent one of the oldest ongoing civilisations on earth. Thousands of spectacular rock art galleries, occupation shelters and other sites of archaeological significance represent a cultural and environmental record stretching back over millennia. These places continue to play an important role in the cultural life of the people.

In 2008 the Bininj Kunwok clans of western Arnhem Land came together to found Warddeken Land Management Limited. Based at the Kabulwarnamyo outstation community, Warddeken is bringing people back onto their traditional lands to manage the country for conservation and to preserve and revitalise their traditional culture and knowledge.

Our partnership with Warddeken

Victor Garlngarr and Barbara Gurwalwal at a rock art gallery at Ngalkombarli, one of thousands of art sites within the Warddeken IPA. Photo © David Hancock

Victor Garlngarr and Barbara Gurwalwal at a rock art gallery at Ngalkombarli, one of thousands of art sites within the Warddeken IPA. Photo © David Hancock.

Bush Heritage has worked in partnership with Warddeken Land Management since 2007 (when they were known as as the Manwurrk Rangers) to support the development and implementation of a plan of management for the Warddeken Indigenous Protected Area (Warddeken IPA). The plan will ensure the sustainable management of the region for conservation, and the protection of important cultural sites under the direction of the Nawardekken Traditional Owners.

The development of the Warddeken plan of management was a vital part of the process toward declaring the Warddeken IPA in September 2009. Along with the neighbouring Djelk IPA, the declaration encompasses more than two million hectares of land – an area larger than the neighbouring Kakadu National Park.

Today Warddeken Land Management operates out of Kabulwarnamyo land and employs more than 14 ranger positions to deliver its programs, depending on the season.

Warddeken Rangers

Warddeken Ranger Delvina Guymala and colleagues prepare to implement a back-burn during wildfire suppression operations. Photo by Peter Cooke.

Indigenous Protected Area status provides a way for Warddeken to protect their traditional country and conserve high-value conservation lands as part of the Australian National Reserve System. It also attracts ongoing funding for land management employment opportunities, which deliver tangible improvements in the health and well being of Indigenous communities.

Bush Heritage has supported the development of effective and sustainable governance mechanisms for the management of the Warddeken IPA, as well as the establishment of a legal framework and endowment fund so supporters can help to finance conservation work within the Warddeken and Djelk IPAs into the future. Bush Heritage continues to play a key role in supporting the successful implementation of the Warddeken IPA Plan of Management through funding support for management staff and coordination of on-ground conservation work.

What we're helping protect

White-throated grasswren

White-throated grasswren.

The Arnhem Plateau is recognised as a landscape of international biodiversity significance. The region supports 166 species of plants and 20 species of vertebrate animals that are found nowhere else.

Our actions help to protect:


Oenpelli python

Oenpelli python.

  • Yirlinkirrkkirr / White-throated grasswren
  • Djabbo / Northern quoll
  • Yok / Northern brown bandicoot
  • Black wallaroo
  • Kordberr / Arnhem Land rock-rat
  • Nawaran / Oenpelli python
  • Golden backed tree rat
  • Alyurr / Leichardt's grasshopper
  • Delicate mouse
  • Saltwater and freshwater crocodiles
  • Benok / bustard
Leichardt's grasshoppers

Leichardt's grasshoppers.


  • Anbinik / Allosyncarpia ternata
  • Anlarrk / Callitris intratropica
  • Boronia quadrilata
  • Boronia viridiflora
Sugar gliders

Sugar gliders.

Vegetation communities

  • Anbinik rainforest
  • Arnhem Plateau shrubland complex
  • Sandstone heathlands
  • Savannah
  • Paperbark swamp
  • Headwater wetlands

Warddeken annual report coverOur early work on this partnership was generously supported through the David Thomas Challenge, The Nature Conservancy and an anonymous donor.

More about Warddeken

Read the Warddeken Land Management Ltd Annual Report (PDF 3Mb)

In September 2014, Warddeken Indigenous Rangers have joined forces with scientists and Bush Heritage Australia to survey the little-known an-binik jungles of West Arnhem Land.

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