Marri-Jabin | Stage one of the Thamarrurr Indigenous Protected Area
(top) dense eucalyptus forests are home to the endangered northern quoll, (middle) keeping culture strong - collecting bush tucker, (bottom) open forests on the floodplain fringes
Images courtesy Thamarrurr Rangers
Northern Territory | Declared in October 2010
"Sacred sites are real, only when you know the stories you know it's there, in that place"
Terrence, traditional owner
Marri-Jabin was declared in October 2010, as the first stage of the Thamarrurr Indigenous Protected Area (IPA). Located 150 kilometres south-west of Darwin, it covers more than 712 square kilometres and includes parts of the of the Moyle and Little Moyle River floodplains and nearby coastal areas.
The Thamarrurr Indigenous land and sea rangers have been managing country in the Thamarrurr region since 2003. The ranger program is now one of the largest Indigenous employers in the Wadeye Aboriginal community, providing numerous jobs for male and female Indigenous rangers.
The declaration of stage one of the Thamarrurr IPA (Marri-Jabin) will help the Marri-Jabin and Marri-Amu clan groups to pursue their cultural responsibilities to care for their land, rivers and sea, using a mix of Indigenous ecological knowledge, western science and contemporary land management practices.
The traditional owners will continue to use the area for sustainable harvesting of traditional foods and for cultural activities. They will manage the IPA's many sacred sites which help tell the story of this spectacular country.
Marri-Jabin is recognised nationally for its many significant species, including the vulnerable red goshawk, the water mouse and the endangered northern quoll. The region's floodplains and wetlands support up to 500,000 magpie geese and its wetlands are recognised as nationally important. Estuarine crocodiles breed on the floodplains and vulnerable flatback and endangered olive ridley turtles nest along the beaches.
Indigenous Protected Areas funding has helped Thamarrurr rangers and community members to develop a plan of management that charts a clear vision for on-ground work. The plan includes fire and visitor management, control of weeds such as mimosa pigra and of feral pigs and management of crocodiles that may pose a threat to safety. The plan stresses the importance of looking after cultural heritage sites, language and practices, and the need for young people to learn skills from their elders.
In managing their IPA, the Thamarrurr Rangers will continue working with partner organisations such as Bushfires Northern Territory, Northern Territory weeds and fisheries staff and Charles Darwin University.
The traditional owners are also interested in pursuing small scale commercial activities such as hunting feral animals and developing recreational fishing and ecotourism opportunities. They want to manage environmental threats while allowing visitors to appreciate the beauty and importance of the region to its owners.
The first stage of the Thamarrurr IPA has been declared a World Conservation Union (IUCN) Category VI protected area, managed mainly for the sustainable use of natural ecosystems.
The IPA is part of Australia's National Reserve System - a nation-wide network of reserves especially set up to protect examples of Australia's unique landscapes, plants and animals for current and future generations. Its rangers receive funding through the Indigenous Protected Areas and Working on Country programs, both part of the Australian Government's Caring for our Country initiative.