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Media Release
The Hon Dr Sharman Stone
Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Federal Member for Murray

16 May 2003

Indigenous Conservation Experts Meet

Indigenous Protected Area (IPA) managers from around the country gathered for the first time in six years in Alice Springs this week to showcase their achievements, identify issues and exchange information with fellow managers of the Federal Government's IPA program.

Since 1996, 17 Indigenous Protected Areas have been declared over Aboriginal land, covering more than 13.8 million hectares and adding significantly to the National Reserve System. IPA areas include Dhimurru (NT), Deen Maar (Vic), Oyster Cove (Tas), Paruku and Ngaanyatjarra (WA), and Watarru and Walalkara (SA).

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for the Environment and Heritage, the Hon Dr Sharman Stone, will attend the workshop to hear first hand from some of the most innovative and successful managers of indigenous lands in Australia.

"The meeting provides IPA Managers who work in some of Australia's most isolated areas, the opportunity to share their experiences with other Indigenous communities who also aim to improve or restore the land in their care," Dr Stone said.

The IPA program is part of the National Reserve System Program, establishing a network of protected areas that includes a representative sample of all types of ecosystems across the country. IPA communities agree to manage and protect their land according to internationally recognised standards and guidelines," Dr Stone said.

"Through these declarations the traditional owners work with Environment Australia to protect and conserve countries unique areas for the future benefit of all Australians."

"Over the last decade or so small and large tracks of land have been bought back for traditional and other indigenous owners, all around Australia. Unfortunately, over the last 100 years much of this land had become weed infested, or pest and vermin ridden, with goats, camels, donkeys, feral cats and rabbits destroying native vegetation, including plants and bush tucker," Dr Stone said.

"When an IPA is voluntarily declared by the indigenous owners, they aim to rid the land of the weeds and ferals, to protect water supplies, the habitats of native species and at the same time to build eco-tourism or other local businesses to economically and culturally sustain the families living on the land."

The IPA program funds to develop and then implement management plans and practical work to protect the natural and cultural features and to help conserve biological diversity.

The Nantawarrina IPA, located adjacent to the southern boundary of Gammon Ranges National Park in the northern Flinders Ranges of South Australia is just one such success story.

Nantawarrina was among only three Australian winners of a UNEP Global 500 award on World Environment Day 2000 recognising the significant efforts of the Nepabunna community in managing Nantawarrina as an IPA.

Recent work includes the development of infrastructure including signage, provision of water supply for camping grounds and huts, upgrading camping grounds, and feral animal and weed control. Goat traps are working well and the number of feral animals is being kept at minimum. Extensive road works have also been undertaken facilitating access onto Nantawarrina and a tourism plan is also under preparation

Anna Hughes (Dr Stone's office) 0408 697 055

Commonwealth of Australia