Aboriginal partnerships

Last updated 06 Feb 2018 

Warddeken Ranger Devita Hodgson and colleagues prepare a back-burn to control wildfire. Photo by Peter Cooke
Warddeken Ranger Devita Hodgson and colleagues prepare a back-burn to control wildfire. Photo by Peter Cooke
Aboriginal Australians have lived on the land for millennia, developing a strong commitment to look after it, as well as accumulating generations of traditional knowledge about the ecology. Whenever we buy land we seek to engage with the Traditional Owners of our reserves to ensure they maintain access and a connection to Country. We value their insight, cultural perspective and collaboration.

We also invest in partnering with Aboriginal groups who are themselves landowners – often of vast estates. We help with developing and implementing Healthy Country Plans that seek to achieve conservation goals while creating jobs and livelihood on Country to ensure the viability of long-term conservation work.

This kind of approach has broken new ground. Our 10-year agreement with the Wunambal Gaambera people was the first long-term partnership of its kind in Australia for any conservation organisation. Since then many have followed.

The relationship that traditional owners have with the land is as forever as it gets. Their ancestors and their future generations are all a part of that country. There is no other place.

- Emma Ignjic, our Aboriginal Programs Officer for Northern Australia

Our 24 active Aboriginal partnerships now encompass 4.9 million hectares of land being protected for conservation.

Arafura Partnership

Map showing the Arafura Swamp locationEstablished: 2014
Area: 1.2 million hectares / 1,200 km²
Location: 450 km east of Darwin, 230 km east of Jabiru

Guruwiling (Arafura Swamp) is the largest freshwater ecosystem in Arnhem Land. We support the Arafura Swamp Rangers developing governance and administrative capacity as well as conservation planning.

Birriliburu Partnership

Map of Birriliburu location

Established: 2011
Area: 6,600,000 hectares
Location: 900 km NW of Perth, 500 km SW of of Port Headland

The Birriliburu Indigenous Protected Area covers a section of the Little Sandy and Gibson Deserts that's roughly the size of Tasmania. Traditional Owners are the Martu people, whose ranger program employs locals from Wiluna and surrounds.

Bunuba Partnership

Map of Bunuba locationEstablished: 2014
Area: 650,000 hectares
Location: Central-west Kimberley, north of Fitzroy Crossing

Bunuba Country includes Giekie Gorge, Tunnel Creek and Windjana Gorge National Parks. Their Native Title rights were recognised in 2012 and we're working with the Bunuba Dawangarri Aboriginal Corporation on their Healthy Country Plan.

Cape York Caring for Country Partnership

Map showing location of Cape York

Established: 2006
Location: Far North Qld

Cape York Peninsula is one of the largest ecologically-intact, tropical, Indigenous domains on earth and is home to more than 10,000 Aboriginal people from 50 diverse language groups. Since 2006 we've worked with the Balkanu Cape York Development Corporation on an over‑arching strategy, which included assessments and planning with clans (the Kaandju, Umpila, Lama Lama and Ayapathu) in the Coen sub‑region.

Mawonga Partnership

Map of Mawonga locationEstablished: 2009
Area: 22,350 hectares
Location: Central-western NSW, 95km north of Hillston

For Ngiyampaa Wangaaypuwan people Mawonga Station is a significant part of their traditional Country. Through the Winangakirri Aboriginal Corporation, Mawonga was purchased on their behalf with funds from the Commonwealth Government National Reserve System program and the Indigenous Land Corporation. We've helped with the property purchase, ecological assessments and their management plan.

Olkola Partnership

Map of Olkola locationEstablished: 2015
Area: 800,000
Location: Cape York, Queensland

The Olkola Aboriginal Corporation secured one of the largest transfers of Aboriginal freehold land when over 700,000 hectares was returned to them in 2014. We've supported development of a Healthy Country Plan and we're working together on a long-term project to protect the Golden-shouldered Parrot.

Warddeken Partnership

Map of Warrdeken locationEstablished: 2007
Area: 1.4 million hectares / 1,400 km²
Location: 230km east of Darwin, 30km west of Jabiru

We've supported the development and implemention of a plan of management for the Warddeken Indigenous Protected Area. This 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.

Wunambal Gaambera Partnership

Map of Wunambal Gaambera location

Established: 2011
Area: 759,806 ha (Uunguu IPA stages 1 and 2)
Location: 600km north east of Derby

The land and waters of the Wunambal Gaambera covers an incredible 2.5 million hectares of white sandy beaches, rocky escarpments and rugged gorges. We've helped create a Healthy Country Plan and support works on the ground.