Three new Indigenous Protected Areas declared in WA, paving the way for more cultural protection

Three new Indigenous Protected Areas declared in WA, paving the way for more cultural protection Yindjibarndi Aboriginal Corporation CEO Michael Woodley has welcomed the new Indigenous Protection Areas declaration. (ABC News: Kathryn Diss)

The federal government has announced a significant investment into protecting and managing cultural heritage in Western Australia's north, a first for the west Pilbara region.

The government will invest $14.6 million to establish 12 new Indigenous Protected Areas (IPAs), with three of those in WA.

The protected areas have been announced for Yindjibarndi Country near Roebourne and Nyamal Country near Marble Bar in the Pilbara, and Wudjari Country near Esperance on WA's South Coast.

CEO of Yindjibarndi Aboriginal Corporation Michael Woodley said the move will help revitalise the land and protect cultural heritage.

"There's a real need and urgency to put [flora and fauna] back on the land," he said.

"The animals that we used to see when I was a child, they've become more and more scarce."

He said the newly proclaimed protected areas will allow rangers to reverse those impacts.

"This gives us a really good opportunity to make sure we can revitalise those particular elements, and continue to sustain them as well," he said.

Indigenous Protected Areas are vast areas of land and sea country directly managed by traditional owners such as Indigenous rangers, who work to protect cultural heritage and biodiversity.

More than 90 million hectares of land across Australia are currently covered by IPAs, and the newly announced areas will add another eight million.

New level of support from government

Mr Woodley said it was good to have government support.

"Previously, we never had the support - through the ranger program we do as much as we can, we have to manage a range of needs and requirements," he said.

"This gives us a really good opportunity to now do some of the revitalisation of important elements that make up who we are and what our country stands for."

He added it was an opportunity for the corporation to collaborate with external agencies.

"This is a First Nations initiative of course, but a lot of non-Indigenous people have the same views about these issues," he said.

"This is a good opportunity to start long-term partnerships with people who feel the same thing about our country, environment and waters."

While Mr Woodley could not confirm the exact sum the Yindjibarndi Aboriginal Corporation will receive from the federal government, he said any funding was instrumental in protecting and healing Country.

He was also optimistic about an increased capacity to bring on more rangers to manage cultural lands.

Federal Minister for Indigenous Australians Linda Burney said putting land management in the hands of traditional owners was vital.

"No one knows this country better than First Nations people, who for time immemorial have cared for our land and sea," she said.

Putting traditional owners' voices first

IPAs and Indigenous ranger programs are supported nationally by not-for-profit organisation, Country Needs People, which advocates for ongoing support.

CEO Paddy O'Leary was in the Pilbara on Wednesday to mark the announcement.

"It will create a much stronger basis for better management of country, better governance, and better relationships with neighbours and stakeholders," Mr O'Leary said.

"It brings a bit of practical funding down to the ground to support things like ranger jobs and day-to-day management."

The first IPA was proclaimed in South Australia in 1998.

Mr O'Leary said since then, they have been instrumental in making Indigenous voices heard.

"It's about genuine collaboration with traditional owners over management of country that puts Traditional Owners vision at the centre."

"Key decisions are made by traditional owners."

  • https://www.msn.com/en-au/news/australia/three-new-indigenous-protected-areas-declared-in-wa-paving-the-way-for-more-cultural-protection/ar-BB1pIVSD?ocid=00000000

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