Park management

Board of management

Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park is managed jointly by the Director of National Parks and the Uluru-Kata Tjuta Board of Management. The Director is assisted by Parks Australia, a division of the Australian Government Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities, in carrying out his management responsibilities.

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Figure 1. Diagram of Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park Joint Management Arrangements

Figure 1. Diagram of Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park Joint Management Arrangements

The Board of Management and the Director are responsible for the preparation of the park Plan of Management and making policy and management decisions. The Board can also provide advice to the Minister regarding management of the park. Parks Australia is responsible for day to day management and implementation of Board decisions.

Of the 12 members of the Board of Management:

  • Eight Aboriginal members are nominated by the Anangu traditional owners
  • One member is nominated by the federal minister responsible for tourism and approved by Anangu
  • One member is nominated by the federal minister responsible for the environment and approved by Anangu
  • One member is nominated by the Northern Territory Government and approved by Anangu
  • One member is the Director of National Parks.

Board members usually sit for a term of five years before a new nomination process takes place. All nominees are appointed by the Minister after a consultation process. Board meetings are held at least four times a year with all matters discussed in both English and Pitjantjatjara and/or Yankunytjatjara.

The Board is assisted in its work by a Secretary and a number of subcommittees dealing with specialised areas of Park Management e.g. tourism, science, media, cultural heritage protection. Any Board subcommittee can make recommendations to the Board who are responsible for making final decisions and recommendations to the Director and Park Manager.

Joint management of Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park began in late 1985.  Under the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act 1976 the Central Land Council (CLC) is responsible for representing the interests of the traditional owners in negotiations and consultations regarding their lands. A CLC officer is employed to conduct consultations and represent the interests of traditional owners in management of the park.

Traditional owners of Uluru-Kata Tjuta live in a large number of communities in Central Australia. Mutitjulu Community is one of these communities and is located inside the park. Mutitjulu Community Aboriginal Corporation (MCAC) represents the community.

Tjukurpa and management

Tjukurpa guides the development and interpretation of park policy as set out in the Plan of Management. Plans of Management are developed in consultation with Anangu and a wide range of individuals and organisations associated with the park. Park Management programs are all guided by Tjukurpa.

Staff

The Park Manager is responsible to the Director and Board of Management for the overall management of the park. Anangu are consulted about all Park programs and employed as consultants, rangers and contractors and through the CLC joint management officer and the Mutitjulu Community liaison officer.

Staff in the park take part in day to day patrols, maintenance and operations, carry out interpretation and education programs, design programs to care for the natural and cultural resources of the park, carry out land and cultural management projects, day to day administration and staff training.

Joint management

On 26 October 1985, the Governor General presented the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park title deeds back to Anangu, the traditional owners.

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'I think Aboriginal people and Parks Australia have been working together really well... the traditional owners and Parks Australia are experts the way we look after our great national park for all Aboriginal people and for the people of Australia and overseas visitors to come and see and enjoy.'
- Yami Lester - Board Chairman 1986 - 1996

In return Anangu leased the lands back to the Australian Government through the Director of National Parks for 99 years. The Director is assisted by Parks Australia (a division of the Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities). Since hand-back, Anangu and Parks Australia staff have worked together to manage the park. This process of working together has come to be known as 'joint management'.

All management policy and programs aim to:

  • maintain Anangu culture and heritage
  • conserve and protect the integrity of the ecological systems in and around the park
  • provide for visitor enjoyment and learning opportunities within the park.

Tjukurpa, Anangu traditional law, knowledge and religious philosophy, guides everything that happens in the park - as it has done for thousands of years.

This concept is expressed on the cover of the Plan of Management by the words:

'Tjukurpa Katutja Ngarantja'
Tjukurpa above all else

Lease agreement

On 26 October 1985, hundreds then Governor-General Sir Ninian Stephen passed over the title deeds to Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park to its traditional owners at a ceremony at the base of the rock. Five minutes later the traditional owners signed an agreement leasing the park back to the Director of National Parks for 99 years.

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This lease agreement ensures that the Director of National Parks:

  • has an Anangu majority on the Board of Management
  • encourages the maintenance of Anangu tradition through protection of sacred sites and other areas of significance
  • maximises Anangu involvement in park administration and management, and provides necessary training
  • delivers training programs to Anangu to enable them to take up employment in the park
  • maximises Anangu employment in the park by accommodating Anangu needs and cultural obligations with flexible working conditions
  • uses Anangu traditional skills in park management
  • actively supports the delivery of cross-cultural training by Anangu to park staff, local residents and park visitors
  • consults regularly with Anangu
  • encourages Anangu commercial activities in the park
  • makes rental payments to the members of the Uluru-Kata Tjuta lands trust
  • maintains the park to best practice standards
  • involves Anangu in staff selection.

Plan of management

See our Plan of management.

Managing climate change

In 2012 Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park released its climate change strategy for 2012-2017.

The predicted effects climate change for the central Australia region include a rise in average temperatures, a reduction in the number of cold nights (below 0 degrees Celsius) and an increase in evaporation rates. There is no projected change to annual average rainfall, there is a marginal increase in the occurrence of hot days and rain events.

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The key threats to central Australia are an increased in annual temperatures, increase in CO2 concentrations, increase in potential evaporation, increase in the number of hot days over 35 degrees Celsius and a change in fire regimes.

These impacts could lead to increased weeds and feral animals in the park, reduced groundwater and surface water, increased risk of fire and an increased stress on park infrastructure.

The park has identified a series of management actions in its climate change strategy to minimise the risks and impacts associated with climate change.

For more information see our climate change strategy.

Cultural heritage management

Anangu make no distinction between preserving natural and cultural heritage – it is all one living landscape. Cultural heritage management activities at Uluru include recording and preserving rock art sites and other areas of cultural significance.

Cultural Site Management System

Developed to support the Cultural Heritage Program at Uluru - Kata Tjuta National Park.

The Cultural Site Management System (CSMS) is a digital keeping place, used to store and catalogue a wide variety of information about Uluru - Kata Tjuta National Park cultural sites, including rock art sites and other areas of significance. It is also used as an operations management tool for the field work associated with cultural heritage management.

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The CSMS enables you to store information for places, areas and objects using data entry forms. These forms are comprised of one or many form elements that include text, dates, images, sound files, videos files, Word documents Excel spreadsheets and PowerPoint presentations.

People using the system can record locations of rock art sites, rock holes and any other site or area of significance using an interactive map. For each of these places any number of forms can be stored. Information contained within the system is permanently archived and can then be accessed by any authorised user at any time.

Please contact us if you want to know more about the Uluru - Kata Tjuta Cultural Site Management System.

Our infrastructure

The park receives more than 250,000 visitors a year. Because of the numbers of visitors and the park’s remoteness maintaining park infrastructure like shelters, toilets and water supply is an ongoing challenge.

If you visit Uluru you’ll see most of the buildings have been designed in keeping with their environment – both natural and cultural.