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The Indigenous Protected Area Program

The Indigenous Protected Area program was first proposed by the Commonwealth Government in 1997. The three stated goals of the program are to:

  • 1

    Support Indigenous land owners to develop, declare and manage IPAs on their lands as part of Australia's National Reserve System;

  • 2

    Support Indigenous interests to develop cooperative management arrangements with Government agencies managing protected areas; and

  • 3

    Support the integration of Indigenous ecological and cultural knowledge with contemporary protected area management practices.(1)


The IPA program has since grown into what has been described as "Australia's most successful innovation in protected area management and in Indigenous engagement in environmental management." (2)

  • (1) http://www.environment.gov.au/indigenous/ipa/goals.html.
  • (2) Dr. Dermot Smyth in Gilligan, B. (2006) "The National Reserve System Programme 2006 Evaluation" Department of the Environment and Heritage, Canberra. pg 2.

Our Indigenous Protected Area

We are hopeful that the IPA program will provide us with the opportunity to enhance the capacity of our rangers, promote the invaluable work that they do on country in the protection and conservation of biodiversity, and to acknowledge our contribution as Traditional Owners in maintaining our environment for future generations.

Native Title has given us legal recognition of our right to manage country and, like our country men to the north (the Wellesley Islands) we believe that an IPA is an appropriate mechanism under which to achieve our aspirations as an IPA has substantial benefits for Traditional Owners and the broader community. We are proud of our unique culture and the extraordinary diversity of our country from the sandstone ridges and escarpments following the rivers and streams through to the coast with their mangroves and sand dunes, and everywhere in between. Conservation has always been a key part of our culture. The flexibility of the IPA program will allow us to meet our cultural obligations in caring for our country, and provide financial and planning support to strengthen our conservation practices as well as national and international recognition to develop and actively manage country.

The IPA also has the potential to open the door to other funding opportunities to manage country. With active management will also come an increase in employment (both directly and indirectly); economic growth in the community and an overall increase in the well-being of all in our people and the community as a whole.

Our IPA will link directly to the Thuwathu/Bujimulla IPA initiative undertaken in the Wellesley Islands, providing two adjoining protected and managed areas amassing an impressive 1,753,500 hectares.

Map 1.1 - Page 3 - Nijinda Durgla IPA Management Plan