Our vision is to protect and enhance our culture and history, while encouraging and protecting the natural environment and conserving biodiversity | Nari Nari Tribal Council
Indigenous Protected Areas (IPAs) are areas of land and sea managed by Indigenous groups as protected areas for biodiversity conservation through voluntary agreements with the Australian Government.
IPAs are an essential component of Australia’s National Reserve System, which is the network of formally recognised parks, reserves and protected areas across Australia. There are currently 78 dedicated IPAs over 74 million hectares. These account for more than 46 per cent of the National Reserve System.
IPAs deliver more than environmental benefits. Managing IPAs helps Indigenous communities protect the cultural values of their country for future generations and results in significant health, education, economic and social benefits.
IPAs create jobs for Indigenous men and women - working and looking after their land. IPA rangers’ employment helps provide financial stability in the community and they are a positive role model for youth. Day-to-day activities of Indigenous rangers on IPAs may include interpretive activities for visitors, protection of rock art, and cultural history and language projects. Traditional bush tucker and medicine knowledge is taught on country to younger generations.
The Indigenous Protected Areas program is administered by the National Indigenous Australians Agency in partnership with the Department. Further information, including a map of all IPA project locations, is available on the National Indigenous Australians Agency’s Protected Areas website.
Sea Country Indigenous Protected Areas Program
$15 million Indigenous Protected Areas Program
In 2017, the Australian Government committed $15 million under the Indigenous Protected Areas Program, to assist Indigenous groups to undertake consultation and planning for the establishment of new IPAs.
$15 million Indigenous Protected Areas Program Competitive Grant Round
A Competitive Grant Round of the $15 million Indigenous Protected Areas Program opened on 18 February 2019 and closed on 30 April 2019. Following the round, the Australian Government announced funding for seven new IPA consultation projects.
The funding of an additional seven IPA consultation projects selected from the 2019 Competitive Grant Round was announced by the Minister on XX July 2021.
$15 million Indigenous Protected Areas Program Discretionary Grant Round
A Discretionary Grant Round of the $15 million Indigenous Protected Areas Program was held in early 2018. Following the round, the Australian Government announced funding for five new IPA consultation projects.
Two new dedicated Indigenous Protected Areas
Of the 19 new IPA projects, two have completed the consultation stage and are now recognised by the Australian Government as dedicated IPAs. This means Indigenous land and sea managers can implement each IPA’s management plan, prepared during the consultation stage. Both IPAs have been added to the National Reserve System.
- Indigenous Protected Areas expanded by 7 million hectares - media release 10 October 2020
Ngururrpa IPA, Great Sandy Desert, Western Australia (Desert Support Services, on behalf of Parna Ngururrpa Aboriginal Corporation)
Dedicated 3 September 2020. 2,962,988 hectares.
Located within the Great Sandy Desert bioregion and comprising a network of sandplains and dunefields, Ngururrpa IPA is known to contain a number of state and nationally listed threatened species, including the EPBC Act listed Greater Bilby, Great Desert Skink and Red-tailed Phascogale. The IPA is connected to IPAs in the north, south and east, contributing to a contiguous network of protected areas in the region. On ground management will be undertaken by Indigenous rangers according to the Ngururrpa Indigenous Protected Area Plan for Country 2020-2025.
Ngadju IPA, north of Esperance, Western Australia (Ngadju Conservation Aboriginal Corporation)
Dedicated 11 September 2020. 4,399,300 hectares.
Located within the Nullarbor, Coolgardie and Mallee bioregions, Ngadju IPA borders five existing protected areas but is the first IPA in the region. The IPA includes one quarter of the Great Western Woodlands, regarded as the largest remaining area of intact Mediterranean-climate woodland left on Earth. Twenty-one vertebrate and 166 plant species listed as threatened or priority species at state or national level have been recorded on the IPA. On ground management will be undertaken by Indigenous rangers according to the Ngadju Indigenous Protected Area Plan of Management 2020-2030.
17 Indigenous Protected Area Consultation Projects
Seventeen of the 19 new IPA projects are still in the consultation stage. Combined, the seventeen projects cover over 32 million terrestrial hectares and over 2.6 million hectares of sea country. Once dedicated, the new IPAs will add over 30 million hectares to the National Reserve System.
750,000 hectares. The Tiwi islands are a biodiversity hotspot with at least 20 EPBC Act listed threatened species including the Brush-tailed Rabbit-rat, Northern Brush-tailed Phascogale, Butler's Dunnart and Eastern Curlew. The proposed IPA contains extensive tall tropical savanna forests, a large number of rainforest patches and coasts supporting marine turtle nesting, seabird rookeries and migratory shorebirds. The project will be managed by the Tiwi people and supported by Tiwi Indigenous rangers.
Almost 4 million hectares. Spanning traditional country of Pintupi, Luritja, Aranda and Warlpiri people, the IPA will improve connections between a cluster of protected areas that together conserve 40 million hectares of arid country in the NT, SA and WA. The project includes a focus on protecting species of cultural and environmental significance including the EPBC Act listed threatened Princess Parrot, Central Rock Rat, Black-footed Rock-wallaby, Bilby and Great Desert Skink. The project will be supported by the Anangu Luritjiku Aboriginal Rangers.
60,000 terrestrial hectares and over 300,000 sea country hectares. The proposed IPA includes foothills and coastal wetlands, ranges, islands, World Heritage listed national parks and sea country within the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. The area is considered a hotspot for Australian possum diversity and supports a significant number of threatened species including the EPBC Act listed Southern Cassowary and the Ant Plant (Myrmecodia beccarii), one of 30 plants prioritised under Australia’s Threatened Species Strategy. A major focus for the Mamu people will be to develop co-management arrangements for national parks to be included in the IPA.
Arafura Swamp, north-east Arnhem Land, Northern Territory (Arafura Swamp Rangers Aboriginal Corporation)
1.4 million hectares. The core of the proposed IPA comprises a vast pristine Wetland of National Importance. Considered an area of exceptional conservation value, 27 EPBC Act listed threatened species are known or likely to occur in the proposed IPA including the Eastern Curlew, Northern Quoll, Northern Hopping-mouse, Gouldian Finch and Masked Owl. The project will be supported by five Indigenous ranger teams.
Over 10 million hectares. A massive IPA proposal including parts of the Nullarbor Plain and Great Victoria Desert. The area is in excellent ecological condition with six EPBC listed threatened species known or likely to occur, including the Malleefowl and Sandhill Dunnart. The project will be supported by an Aboriginal ranger team based at Oak Valley, the largest Aboriginal Community on Maralinga Tjarutja lands.
1.8 million hectares. Located on the Arnhem Plateau, the proposed IPA includes the headwaters of the rivers feeding into the western Gulf of Carpentaria as well as three major north-flowing rivers. The area supports a large number of species listed as threatened in the Northern Territory and nationally including the EPBC Act listed Northern Hopping-mouse, Northern Quoll, Gouldian Finch, Partridge Pigeon and Leichhardt's Sawfish. An EPBC Act listed Threatened Ecological Community also occurs in the area; the Arnhem Plateau Sandstone Shrubland Complex. The project will be supported by the Mimal Rangers, an experienced Indigenous ranger team established 20 years ago.
155,000 terrestrial hectares and over 800,000 sea country hectares. The sea country contains some of the most significant Green Turtle and Dugong habitat in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. 26 EPBC Act listed threatened fauna species and 9 EPBC Act listed threatened flora species are known or likely to occur in the proposed IPA area, including the Eastern Curlew, Southern Cassowary, Palm Cockatoo, Ghost Bat and Haine’s Orange Mangrove. The Harmer River–Shelburne Bay Aggregation located within the proposed IPA is a Wetland of National Importance.
Over 770,000 hectares. The proposed IPA includes two jointly managed national parks and will provide connectivity to five other national parks. The area includes habitat for EPBC Act listed species including the Black-footed Tree-rat, Ghost Bat and Masked Owl.
Crocodile Islands Maringa, north-east Arnhem Land, Northern Territory (Milingimbi & Outstations Progress Resource Association)
Over 78,000 terrestrial hectares and 730,000 sea country hectares. The proposed IPA includes extensive mangrove communities, tidal flats/salt pans, intertidal mud flats, coastal floodplains, monsoon forests, eucalypt open forests, shallow seas and reefs, and a network of near and offshore islands. 18 EPBC Act listed threatened species are known or likely to occur on the proposed IPA and the intertidal mud-flats of the area seasonally support the largest aggregation of migratory shorebirds in northern Australia. The project will be supported by the Crocodile Islands Rangers, an experienced Indigenous ranger team established in 2011.
6.2 million hectares. A large and extremely remote IPA proposal. The area spans a north-south transition in pristine ecosystems ranging from the Nullarbor Plain and mulga woodlands of the Great Victoria Desert Nature Reserve in the south, through sand hill and salt lake country, into the breakaways and hills of WA’s Central Ranges.
215 terrestrial hectares and 215,350 sea country hectares. Located in the Torres Strait, the area includes the populated Masig Island, 11 uninhabited coral cays, and surrounding sea. The cays have unique biodiversity values including species and ecosystems of international and national significance including six species of marine turtles which use the area for habitat and nesting.
2,655 terrestrial hectares and 246,748 sea country hectares. Located in the Torres Strait, the area includes highly biodiverse coral cays and reefs and surrounding sea including large continuous seagrass meadows, abundant tropical marine life, extensive coastal mangrove forests, internationally significant coastal and migratory birds, dugong and turtle populations.
530,699 hectares. The area includes portions of the National Heritage Listed Fitzroy River including environmentally significant tributaries, floodplains and wetlands. In the south the area extends over pindan country and extensive dune fields into the Great Sandy Desert. EPBC listed species of focus include the Purple Crowned Fairy Wren, Gouldian Finch and Black-Flanked Rock Wallaby.
293,621 hectares. The area covers a large portion of the Dampier Peninsula north of Broome. The proposed IPA will protect significant freshwater and vine thicket ecosystems, EPBC listed migratory, marine, shorebird, mammal and bird species, including Bilby and Gouldian Finch.
Over 1.9 million hectares. Situated in the Great Sandy Desert in the southern Kimberley, the area includes extensive spinifex-covered sandplains and dune fields, sandstone and siltstone ranges and isolated rocky outcrops. Water resources include a number of small fresh-water springs and soakages, isolated rockholes, and the semi-permanent Lady Elizabeth Lagoon in the north. EPBC listed species of focus include the Night Parrot and Bilby.
102,583 hectares. The area extends from the rain-forested headwaters of the McIlwraith Range to the tidal-fringe of the northern Great Barrier Reef and includes coastal foothills and sandplains. The lowlands, intersected by estuaries, rivers, lakes and freshwater swamps, host numerous rare and restricted species and communities. The area is one of only two Australian locations supporting high numbers of both endemic Gondwanan and Australo-Papuan wildlife.
13,261 terrestrial hectares and 366,842 sea country hectares. Mayala Country ties together hundreds of islands, interconnecting sea, reefs and tides in the Buccaneer Archipelago and King Sound off the West Kimberley coast. The islands contain highly diverse ecosystems with no introduced animals, few destructive fires and very few weeds. They act as a safe haven for species threatened on the mainland, including EPBC listed Northern Quoll, and guard against advancing mainland threats such as cane toads. The sea area is home to dugong and five species of marine turtle.