Director of National Parks
Gumma - A coastal sanctuary on the NSW north coast
25 November 2011
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Traditional owners today gathered at Nambucca Heads to celebrate the declaration of the 111 hectare Gumma Indigenous Protected Area.
Just south of Nambucca Heads on the north coast of New South Wales, next to the Gaagal Wanggaan (South Beach) National Park, Gumma is a culturally significant landscape and a refuge for biodiversity.
To the west, the Nambucca River separates Gumma from the mainland, creating a small peninsula. Three islets float at the mouth of the Nambucca River, linking this protected area to the Pacific Ocean. Gaagal (the sea) is the totem of the traditional owners, the Gumaynggir people.
Indigenous Protected Areas director Bruce Rose congratulated the Baga Baga and Ngambaa clan of the Gumbaynggirr on their decision to protect their country for future generations.
“An Indigenous Protected Area is an area of Indigenous-owned land or sea that is dedicated by its traditional owners for biodiversity conservation and cultural heritage protection and managed in line with international standards.
“Because Indigenous Protected Areas are managed to international conservation guidelines they are included in the National Reserve System - Australia's nationwide network of reserves especially set up to protect examples of Australia's unique biodiversity for current and future generations.
“Today's announcement means Gumma is now part of a national network of Indigenous Protected Areas, covering more than 26 million hectares of Australia. Indigenous Protected Areas are also part of Australia's National Reserve System - the nationwide network of reserves especially set up to protect examples of Australia's unique landscapes, plants and animals for current and future generations.
“Gumma is truly a great addition to this network - it is beautiful country, from the sandflats, saltmarshes and mangroves to the old growth eucalypt forest dominating its centre. This provides shelter for many mammals including the squirrel glider, yellow bellied glider and micro bats. Its dense undergrowth is home to species like the long-nosed potoroo, brushed tail phascogale and green and gold bell frog.”
Baga Baga traditional owner Conway Marshall said that sustainable management of the landscape and its species was embedded in Gumbaynggirr culture.
“We still use this area and maintain our connection to this sacred and culturally significant place. For our people Mimi Wagar (Mother Earth) is central to our beliefs. She is a living entity, sustaining all life and organising the balance between ecosystems. Gaagal (the sea) is our totem,” he said.
“That's why we have a responsibility to look after this place, to pass down our cultural knowledge about our connection to water and why we must protect the landscape.
“Declaring our country an Indigenous Protected Area will help us to look after Gumma through litter management, weed and feral animal control. Gumma will again become a place of environmental and cultural learning through partnerships with the community, education institutions and other organisations like the Australian Government.”
Indigenous Protected Areas are one of Australia's most successful conservation stories - protecting Australia's bioidiversity while providing training and employment for Aboriginal people. Indigenous Protected Areas are a significant investment in Closing the Gap of Indigenous disadvantage.
Gumma Indigenous Protected Area - ring Chels Marshall on 0459 849 102
Indigenous Protected Areas - ring Miranda Schooneveldt on 0428 630 910
For more information visit environment.gov.au/indigenous/ipa