Tropical Savannas CRC > Achievements > Links across the north

Establishing links across the north

kimb crew2

People from across northern Australia gather at a NAILSMA workshop

Bringing people together who have a common interest in north Australian land management issues can be a very important part of creating sustainable solutions in this area. There may be many people in northern Australia who are concerned about a common issue, but because they are scattered in remote communities across the far north of Queensland the NT and WA it is difficult to built the critical mass of people that can make a difference. One of the key achievements of the Tropical Savannas CRC has been to help…




NAILSMA – an alliance of Indigenous land and sea managers for north Australia

NAILSMA website

The NAILSMA website

In the late 90s, when Indigenous people across north Australia wanted to meet to discuss land management issues of common interest, the Tropical Savannas CRC was a convenient forum as it was one of the few bodies funding NRM research across the north. In the early 2000s when Indigenous groups wanted to set up a more formal alliance of the Land Councils centred around Land Management, the TS-CRC was used as the vehicle to house this alliance. The CRC supported the North Australian Land and Sea Management Alliance (NAILSMA) from 2001 to 2009.

In this time NAILSMA has become an important way that Indigenous people across northern Australia can coordinate efforts to tackle natural and cultural resource issues including issues around Indigenous knowledge. It has also allowed them to secure more control in the way these issues are dealt with.

Some of the initiatives that NAILSMA has undertaken include:

  • A major NAILSMA project that builds management capacity for dugongs and marine turtles in Indigenous communities in the Kimberley, Top End of the Northern Territory, Gulf of Carpentaria, Cape York and the Torres Strait.
  • The NAILSMA enterprise development unit continues to work with Indigenous people across northern Australia, running marketing workshops and establishing a Bush Trading stall at the Mindil Beach markets in Darwin.
  • Capacity in Indigenous policy is being built through the Indigenous Water Policy Group which holds regular workshops and brings Indigenous representatives together with major state and territory water agencies to discuss water reform.
  • A partnership with Bush Heritage Australia has been established to support the purchase of ecologically and culturally significant country, to support conservation management on land already owned and managed by Indigenous people; and to support the participation of Indigenous people in the management of Bush Heritage reserves.
  • Study assistance at the certificate, diploma and degree levels in the area of land and sea management has been taken up by over 60 Indigenous students. Leadership workshops for Indigenous land and sea managers have also been well-attended. An Indigenous business development unit focused on opportunities in the area of land and seas management has been established by NAILSMA.
  • A Carbon Abatement Project has been established with $9M of funding from the Federal Government to assist Indigenous people extend projects modelled on the West Arnhem Land Fire Abatement (WALFA) Project across northern Australia. The WALFA project is receiving more than $1M dollars a year from the Energy Company ConocoPhillips to manage wildfire on the Arnhem Land Plateau in return for the Greenhouse Gas Emission reductions achieved and in the process is securing jobs and building fire and business management skills in Indigenous communities.


NAFM – a forum for north Australian fire Agencies


The North Australian Fire Managers Forum, run by the northern fire agencies, brings together fire managers and researchers

Managing the vast largely grass-fuelled bushfires that sweep across northern Australia in the late dry season requires a different approach to that used to manage the more intense and smaller bushfires of southern Australia. Because of this, northern fire managers often don’t have access to relevant technical advice. With this is mind, in the late 1990s fire managers from the northern bushfire agencies decided to set up a North Australia Fire Manager’s Forum (NAFM) that would be chaired and hosted by the Tropical Savannas CRC. The idea of the Forum was to bring together practitioners from the various bushfire agencies and other groups from across northern Australia together with fire researchers from across Australia so that the on-ground practitioners could pick up useful new research applications, the researchers could be guided by the needs of the practitioners and everyone could exchange ideas and experiences.

Since the first NAFM forum in 1998, there have now been 18 at the time of writing (July 2010) and they are now a regular and valued fixture in the northern fire year. The meetings rotate between WA, Qld and the NT and are now chaired by the hosting fire agency.