Indigenous Communities

and the Environment

Risdon Cove and Putalina Indigenous Protected Areas Map showing the location of Risdon and Oyster Coves Indigenous Protected Area, Tasmania

Risdon Cove and Putalina Indigenous Protected Areas

Tasmania | Declared in July 1999

Lying on either side of Hobart on the eastern coast of Tasmania, Risdon Cove and putalina (Oyster Cove) Indigenous Protected Areas (IPAs) were declared in July 1999.

Both IPAs are managed by the Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre, and are important cultural and spiritual sites for the local community. They are among 11 areas returned to the Tasmanian Aboriginal community under the Aboriginal Lands Act 1995.

The IPAs protect richly diverse estuarine and riparian ecosystems, as well as areas of remnant bush, open paddocks and artefact sites.

Both environments have been modified since European settlement, with land cleared of native vegetation. The IPAs now suffer from the effects of introduced weeds and feral animals such as cats and rabbits. putalina is of great importance to the Tasmanian Aboriginal community. Midden sites along the waterways are evidence of extensive shellfish gathering over long periods of time. It is also known as a site where Aboriginal people were incarcerated and many died of disease and despair.

The history and the values of putalina are part of the Aboriginal cultural heritage now managed under IPA status. Ancestral remains formerly removed to museums overseas have been returned and laid to rest. A community festival is held each January to celebrate putalina’s significance to the Aboriginal community.

Learning from elders

IPA funding helps to protect shellfish midden sites at the 32 hectare putalina IPA from erosion, and from depredation by exotic Pacific oysters. IPA activities also include firebreak construction and maintenance, and tussock grass burn-offs to promote new plant growth.

Lying on the Derwent River, Risdon Cove was the first place in Tasmania to be impacted by European colonisation. The Aboriginal community’s vision for Risdon Cove is to develop and use the 109 hectare IPA to educate people about Tasmanian Aboriginal history and culture and the impact of early European presence at this site.

IPA funding also supports the recording and protection of cultural sites including artefact scatters, a quarry and a rock shelter. Local seed is being collected and propagated on site for revegetation. A complex of buildings and outdoor spaces for cultural learning is being developed, including a community school, and a spiral stone community garden for food, medicinal and craft plants. The garden is also used for performances and community gatherings.

Land management activities on both IPAs emphasise environmental rehabilitation and sustainable land use, such as weed and feral animal control, and revegetation programs. Cultural activities are enhanced with the erection of visitor interpretation signs, and walking track construction.

Risdon Cove and putalina IPAs are managed under the following International Union for Conservation of Nature category: