Wattleridge Indigenous Protected Area
New South Wales | Declared in June 2001
The Wattleridge Indigenous Protected Area was declared in June 2001. It lies about 35 kilometres north-east of the New England township of Guyra, and covers 648 hectares of botanically diverse bushland growing on outcropping granite country. Bounded by the Sara River flowing to the north, the land's rocky ridges and rolling landscape are separated by forested valley flats, picturesque creeks and tumbling waterfalls.
Wattleridge IPA contains the only recorded axe-grinding groove sites and fully recorded art sites in the local area.
Prior to European settlement Wattleridge was part of the traditional lands of the Banbai community. In 1998 the Indigenous Land Corporation purchased the land for Banbai Land Enterprises Limited, opening the door for its declaration as the first IPA in New South Wales. The Traditional Owners manage the IPA as part of a larger 650 hectare property. Property owners protect the land's wildlife habitat and educate visitors on the conservation values of the area. These responsibilities are followed through as part of the wider IPA management strategy, which extends right through to promoting biodiversity in the greater Clarence River Catchment area.
Images: (Top) Tarick Patterson, Douglas Cutmore, Travis Patterson and Corey Torrens working at Wattleridge. (Bottom) Rock art viewing platform.
Wattleridge contains large areas of bushland which haven't been logged, grazed or frequently burnt for nearly 30 years, resulting in a wide range of plant species not found elsewhere in the region. Although this protection from fire has resulted in largely intact vegetation communities, it has also allowed feral animals and weeds to multiply. The Traditional Owners are implementing a comprehensive pest management strategy, targeting foxes and rabbits, wild dogs, feral cats, pigs and goats, and weeds such as blackberry, nodding thistle and fireweed.
The historic absence of substantial fire means fire management is now a priority. A detailed fire management plan is being developed with assistance from the New South Wales National Parks and Wildlife Service.
The Banbai community hopes to make the Wattleridge property self-sufficient. Through the Indigenous Protected Area, small business enterprises are being developed to help provide employment and extra funds for environmental management. The construction of walking tracks, viewing platforms and interpretative signage is building ecotourism. The community is also developing a native plant propagation business, with work underway on replanting the land, training people in horticulture and setting up seed banks.
Several sites of cultural significance, including an ancient rock art site, scarred trees and axe-grinding grooves on granite boulders, are being protected by IPA activities.
Wattleridge IPA is managed in line with the following International Union for Conservation of Nature category:
- Category VI - Managed Resource Protected Area: Protected Area managed mainly for the sustainable use of natural ecosystems.