Case study sees strong Aboriginal management in the bush 

Jane Walker (fourth from left) with senior Warlpiri women involved in the research, Lilly Hargraves, Myra Herbert and Margaret Martin, Rosie Tasman and Biddy Long, on a country visit in the Tanami Desert

A CDU research project examining Aboriginal management in Indigenous Protected Areas (IPAs) is showcasing the high level of motivation and knowledge that local people have for managing country.

Alice Springs-based PhD candidate Jane Walker is nearing completion of her three-year study of the Northern Tanami Indigenous Protected Area, where she is examining how Aboriginal management interests challenge and promote protected area conservation outcomes.

The Northern Tanami IPA covers more than 40,000 km2 and is managed from the remote Warlpiri community of Lajamanu, 900km north-west of Alice Springs.

IPAs are funded through the Federal Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts, and further supported by both land councils in the Northern Territory.

They support Aboriginal landowners to manage the natural and cultural values of their lands.

Jane said she was inspired by the high levels of motivation and knowledge of the Warlpiri community.

“People are really motivated and want to improve management of country to maintain culture and pass it on to the younger generations,” she said.

“Indigenous people have great knowledge and ideas on how to manage their local lands.”

And she said the knowledge, interests and values of Aboriginal people in protected area management are often not well-reflected in policy development and on-ground management.

But she said IPAs enhanced Aboriginal control in management, recognised the cultural, spiritual and economic significance of land to Aboriginal people and supported economic and social development.

Jane works mostly with senior Warlpiri women from the Lajamanu community and has gained support from the community and Central Land Council.

Her research is funded by the Northern Territory Research and Innovation Board and Desert Knowledge Cooperative Research Centre.

Jane sees a good future for the IPA.

“It’s clear local people have a strong interest in the management of the Northern Tanami IPA, the future looks positive,” she said.