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Australia

Restoring Lost Connections

The Nature Conservancy is working with Indigenous people to protect key landscapes in Australia.


Linking Landscapes and Indigenous Peoples

Hear and see the connection between Indigenous people and the lands of their ancestors.

"We can learn from [our ancestors'] traditions what we must do today and in the future, to live in the most balanced way possible."

Eugene Eades, Noongar People

For Australia’s Indigenous people, the natural world is alive with stories. Places, plants, animals and people are woven together in a vibrant tapestry of history, legend and beliefs called the Dreaming.* When settlers displaced the land’s original people, these tapestries began to unravel — and nature lost its caretakers.

Today, The Nature Conservancy is working with Indigenous people to protect key landscapes in Australia — for the sake of nature and communities that seek to reconnect with their ancestral lands.

We are partnering with Australian conservation groups, governments and Indigenous communities to:

  • Acquire land — with 27 large properties already secured,
  • Restore cleared lands that can link up patches of habitat,
  • Steward protected lands effectively through sound fire management, combating invasive species and other needs, and
  • Encourage sufficient government protection of critical places like the Great Western Woodlands.

Conservation successes that protect Australia’s remarkable places and species can also enable descendants of distinct tribal groups such as the Noongar find their way back “on country” and revive rich cultures that are bound inextricably to nature.

Read Noongar leader Eugene Eades’ personal account of the importance of land to Indigenous people.

Indigenous communities have a vital role to play in protecting the resources that sustained and defined their cultures for 40,000 years. Out of great respect for this truth, the Conservancy is committed to helping reinstate Indigenous peoples to their homelands.

Along with partners, including PEW Charitable Trusts, the Conservancy is providing funding and land management expertise to the Indigenous Protected Areas (IPA) program, an initiative by the Australian government to help indigenous peoples effectively conserve their land. With 25 IPAs covering more than 20 million hectares already established, supporting this initiative enables the Conservancy to affect conservation on a massive scale.

We are also committed to helping Indigenous communities secure sustainable sources of income. Without ways to support their families, just going back on country is not enough. We are exploring ways to help communities exploit the potential sustainable tourism and innovative new prospects, such as selling carbon offset credits to companies in exchange for sound fire management of grasslands. With a creative and collaborative spirit, we can help make it possible for the land’s original caretakers to return and thrive for generations to come.

Hear and see the connection between Indigenous people and the lands of their ancestors.

*“Dreamtime” refers to “the time of the creation of all things” when Ancestor Spirits came to Earth and land, plants and animals were given the form they take today. “Dreaming” refers to beliefs or spirituality; it establishes rules for social behavior and ceremonies — such as songs, dances, stories and paintings — that ensure continuity of culture and connection with the land. The significance of particular places and creatures is wedded to their origin in the Dreaming, and certain places have a particular potency. 

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