In May and June 2013, the creation of four new, massive Indigenous Protected Areas (IPAs) will add more than 4.2 million hectares to Australia's National Reserve System. That's an area of land one and a half times the size of Tasmania.
At the announcement of the Bardi Jawi IPA in late May, Dr Geoffrey Lipsett-Moore–The Nature Conservancy’s North Australia Program Director–was overjoyed.
"Today is the result of a decade’s shared vision and partnership with the Kimberley Land Council and ranger groups across the region to shape a direction for Indigenous people to manage their land for conservation," he said. "The Nature Conservancy has invested just under $1 million through innovative financing towards developing management plans that will see this land managed to international standards with Traditional Owners leading the way in conserving their own country."
The Bardi Jawi IPA sits 160 kilometres north of Broome and is surrounded by sea on three sides. Bardi Jawi will combine with the Balanggarra, Wilinggin, and Dambimangari IPAs that are also being created in the Kimberley to represent an enormous achievement for large-scale land conservation in Australia.
The four IPAs cover coastal beaches, bays, coral reefs, mangroves, and creeks that provide a rich and diverse habitat for marine and terrestrial life. Species of conservation significance include green sea turtles, dugongs, and the endangered Gouldian finch.
The IPAs aren't just an accomplishment for wildlife. “Traditional owners too will be able to build a culture-based economy to support their communities, gain employment by working as Indigenous Rangers, and remain and work on country,” Lipsett-Moore said.
In the future, the Conservancy will continue supporting and mentoring Indigenous-led fire programs that combine traditional management practices with cutting-edge science.