Indigenous Communities

and the Environment

About Indigenous Protected Areas - fact sheet

Australian Government Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities, September 2006
© Commonwealth of Australia

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Extract from the fact sheet

An Indigenous Protected Area (IPA) is an area over which the traditional Indigenous owners have entered into a voluntary agreement to promote biodiversity and conserve cultural resources in line with international standards. An IPA brings together traditional Indigenous knowledge and modern science for effective land management.

IPAs cover more than 26 million hectares, including some of Australia's rarest and most fragile environments. Every IPA makes an important contribution to Australia's nation-wide network of parks and reserves, the National Reserve System, by protecting biodiversity for the benefit of all Australians.

For Indigenous communities, caring for country is closely linked to community wellbeing. Projects that support Indigenous land management provide real benefits in health, education, employment and social cohesion, and are a potential model for engagement with remote Indigenous communities around the country.

IPAs work in a range of ways to create greater cross-cultural understanding. For example, Indigenous rangers work with non-Indigenous and Indigenous school classes on environmental and cultural issues, and help organise and run school camps.

Indigenous rangers also work directly with Indigenous children, facilitating the transfer of traditional knowledge. The rangers are role models and mentors for young Indigenous children.

The transfer of traditional knowledge not only helps to raise awareness of specific environmental issues and provide opportunities for young people to gain a better understanding of their relationship to country - it also contributes to social outcomes such as better school attendance and cross-community engagement.

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