Management aims, activities and achievements

The key management objectives for the IPAs include:

  • The reduction of uncontrolled fires;
  • Minimizing the impact of feral pigs and water buffalo in wetland ecosystems;
  • Eradication of invasive weeds;
  • Conducting comprehensive biodiversity assessments and documentation of results;
  • Intergenerational transfer of traditional knowledge about the environment.

The principal indigenous organisations involved in management of the IPAs are the Djelk Rangers based in Maningrida and supported by the business unit of the Bawinanga Aboriginal Corporation (BAC), and the Manwurrk Rangers with the Warddeken Land Management Ltd operating out of the Kabulwarnamyo, a small outstation based within the Warddeken IPA.

Djelk Rangers

The Djelk Rangers are a Maningrida based Indigenous land management group that has been in continuous operation since the early 1990s. In that time Djelk Rangers have grown to become a successful and multi skilled land management team. There are approximately 34 Land and Sea Djelk Rangers employed full time through various government programs such as the Australian Government’s Working on Country program with additional funding received from the fee for service activities and BAC (Bawinanga Aboriginal Corporation 2009).

The Djelk Rangers are involved in a wide range of management activities including the following projects and achievements:

  • Land and sea based management activities focused on maintaining biodiversity, including: feral pig and buffalo control, weed eradication, traditional fire management, invertebrate monitoring, marine pest monitoring, rapid aerial assessment of wetland condition, and removal of marine debris.
  • Ongoing training and capacity building of rangers.
  • Djelk Rangers (with Manwurrk Rangers) are partners with private industry in the carbon abatement partnership called the West Arnhem Land Fire Abatement Program (WALFA) to reduce wildlife, reinstate traditional burning regimes, and reduce CO2 emissions.
  • Support of a junior ranger program at Maningrida High School.
  • A number of fee for service contracts with Northern Territory and Australian Government agencies including monitoring invertebrates, marine pests, vertebrate diseases and landing sites as well as monitoring and removing marine debris.
  • A key innovative land management and monitoring tool used by Djelk Rangers involves use of Cyber Tracker software for collecting geo-referenced data on the timing, number and location of management burns, feral animal culls and turtle sightings.
  • Work with the Northern Territory Government Bushfires and Biodiversity Unit on vegetation and faunal assemblages and species of the Arnhem Plateau and their responses to fire for over ten years.
  • During 2010-2011 three major fauna surveys took place in the Warddeken IPA. 70 species were recorded of which eight are endemic to the Arnhem Plateau.
  • Biodiversity benchmarking surveys within the IPA with assistance from the Northern Territory Government Department of Natural Resources the Environment, Tourism the Arts and Sport (NRETAS).

Warddeken Land Management Limited

The Manwurrk Rangers have been undertaking land management work in the Warddeken region since 2002. In August 2007 the tradiyou are 10 minutestional owners formed Warddeken Land Management Ltd to assist the Manwurrk Rangers and traditional owners in the protection and management of their country, combining traditional ecological knowledge with western science. Warddeken Land Management Ltd operates out of the Kabulwarnamyo, a small outstation based within the Warddeken IPA. Today there are approximately 12 rangers working in its programs, depending on the season.

The Manwurrk Rangers are involved in a wide range of management activities including:

  • Land management activities focused on maintaining biodiversity, including: weed monitoring and control (e.g. gamba grass infestations); feral animal management activities; conducting ant surveys; mapping buffalo damage; and monitoring cats, pigs, black rats, bees and cane toads.
  • Ongoing training and capacity building of rangers.
  • Implemention of an annual fire management program conducting early dry season prescribed burns and conducting aerial incendiary burning.
  • Warddeken Land Management Ltd (and Djelk Rangers) are partners with private industry in theabatement partnership called the West Arnhem Land Fire Abatement Program (WALFA) to reduce wildlife, reinstate traditional burning regimes, and reduce CO2 emissions.
  • Various projects focusing on traditional knowledge conservation and intergenerational knowledge transfer (e.g. traditional knowledge recording projects have been undertaken of Bark [the black rock kangaroo], and Nawaran [the Oenpelli python]).
  • Documentation and protection of cultural sites including a project titled ‘Fragile First Impressions’ which involves conserving the most fragile rock art of the plateau in conjunction with the traditional owners.
  • Work with the Northern Territory Government Bushfires and Biodiversity Unit on vegetation and faunal assemblages and species of the Arnhem Plateau and their responses to fire for over ten years.
  • During 2010-2011 three major fauna surveys took place in the Warddeken IPA. 70 species were recorded of which eight are endemic to the Arnhem Plateau.
  • Biodiversity benchmarking surveys within the IPA with assistance from the Northern Territory Government Department of Natural Resources the Environment, Tourism the Arts and Sport (NRETAS).

A key issue for the successful management of the IPA is access. Due to the remoteness and rugged terrain of the IPA, access is mainly by foot or helicopter. In the dry season a few rough tracks between outstations are accessible by 4WD. This increases the cost of visiting for annual management activities and reduces the amount of time rangers can spend in the most isolated areas. Improving access is a key action to enable other threat management activities to be undertaken effectively and efficiently.

References

Bawinanga Aboriginal Corporation (2009). Djelk Indigenous Protected Area - Central Northern Arnhem Land Management Plan 2009.