Issue 17, January - March 2001

Protected area declared in Arnhem Land

Dhimurru people with Federal Environment Minister Robert Hill

Federal Environment Minister Robert Hill (far right) with Dhimurru Land Management Aboriginal Corporation Rangers and staff including Chairman Bawurr Munyarryun (seated left) and Senior Ranger Nanikiya Munungurritj (standing beside the Minister) marking the declaration of Dhimurru IPA.

AROUND 100,000 hectares of ecologically and culturally significant land in north-east Arnhem Land was declared an Indigenous Protected Area (IPA) in March.

The Dhimurru IPA is the first such agreement in the Northern Territory, and the thirteenth to be declared in Australia. This brings the total of Indigenous owned lands managed as IPAs to 3.1 million hectares.

The Natural Heritage Trust has granted $110,000 of funding to Dhimurru Land Management Aboriginal Corporation to assist with establishing and managing the IPA. The IPA program is a Commonwealth initiative funded through the Natural Heritage Trust. Under the program, indigenous landowners commit to manage their lands as part of Australia’s National Reserve System. In return, landowners receive funding and technical support to manage their lands.

The Dhimurru IPA contains a vast diversity of plant, animal and sealife, some species of which are thought to occur only in the IPA. Ecological systems include sand dunes, grasslands, monsoon rainforest, mangroves, saline swamps, open forest, woodlands, pandanus swamp, and riparian forest. The IPA also includes coastal zones which cover territory of several threatened turtle species and the nesting and feeding habitats for numerous sea birds.

The major management issues are visitor pressures on recreation areas, rehabilitation from past uncontrolled vehicle access, and wildlife protection and research including monitoring the impact of marine debris on threatened turtle populations.

The Dhimurru Indigenous Protected Area takes its name from the Dhimurru Land Management Aboriginal Corporation, formed in 1992 to represent the interests of the 14 clan groups which have links to the Dhimurru lands.