The park is proclaimed under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (the EPBC Act) and is managed through a joint management arrangement between the Aboriginal traditional owners and the Director of National Parks. The Director manages Commonwealth national parks through Parks Australia, which is a part of the Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities.
Approximately 50 per cent of the land in the park is Aboriginal land under the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act 1976, and most of the remaining area of land is under claim by Aboriginal people. Title to Aboriginal land in the park is held by Aboriginal land trusts. The land trusts have leased their land to the Director of National Parks for the purpose of a national park for the enjoyment and benefit of all Australians. Traditional owners have also expected that having their land managed as a national park would assist them in looking after their land in the face of growing and competing pressures. They saw a national park as establishing a way to manage the land that could protect their interests and be sympathetic to their aspirations. Parks Australia and the Aboriginal traditional owners of Kakadu are committed to the principle of joint management of the park and arrangements to help this happen are highlighted throughout the Kakadu National Park Management Plan (2007-2014).
The EPBC Act provides for boards of management to be established for parks on Aboriginal land. The Kakadu Board of Management, which has an Aboriginal majority (ten out of fifteen members), representing the Aboriginal traditional owners of land in the park, was established in 1989. The Board determines policy for managing the park and is responsible, along with the Director, for preparing plans of management for the park. The Management Plan is the main policy document for the park and strives to balance strategic or long-term goals and tactical or day to day goals.
Further information on the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 can be found if you go to the Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities EPBC Act page.
The Management Plan is based on the experience of managing the park since 1979. Fundamental issues addressed in the Plan are the need to make sure that the rights of the Aboriginal traditional owners are recognised, that traditional owners contribute to managing the park, and that they are able to benefit from the park economically and through the promotion of Aboriginal values. The traditional owners must be active partners with Parks Australia in managing the park if the joint management arrangement in Kakadu is to succeed. The Plan also addresses the many continuing and major issues for Kakadu in the areas of conservation of natural and cultural heritage, including conservation of biodiversity, and provision for public appreciation and enjoyment of the park. It notes the need for continuing and increased regional cooperation in conservation and tourism management.