MEDIA RELEASE: Country Needs People Welcomes Threatened Species Action Plan, calls for rebuild of support for Indigenous Land and Sea Management

Published: 13 Oct 2022

Country Needs People welcomes the launch of the new Threatened Species Action Plan, by Minister for Environment Tanya Plibersek.

“We support the renewed focus on protecting threatened species in this plan and the ambitious but achievable targets within it. We do know this will be a challenging aim and it’s clear that Indigenous Protected Areas, Indigenous Rangers and other place-based management by Traditional Owners will be critical to delivering on these ambitions”, says Patrick O’Leary, Executive Director of Country Needs People.

There are at least 21 Indigenous Ranger organisations managing land and sea and protecting threatened species in the ‘Priority Places’ identified in the Threatened Species Action Plan. These include our partners Wuthathi Aboriginal Corporation (Raine Island QLD), Yuku-Baja-Muliku Rangers (eastern forests of far north QLD), Warddeken Rangers (Western Arnhem Land), Anangu Luritjiku Rangers (Macdonell Rangers NT) and Budj Bim Rangers (VIC) among others.

The government has rightly set targets for increasing protected areas to 30% of land and sea by 2030 and it’s essential to remember that there is no pathway to those targets that doesn’t involve Traditional Owners.

Indigenous Protected Areas are now around half of the entire Australian protected area estate on land, and both IPAs in the sea and other forms of co-management with Traditional Owners are growing. There are at least 13 Indigenous Protected Areas which come under the Threatened Species Plan’s identified priority places – Southern Plains (incl West VIC volcanic plain and karst springs, SA/ VIC), Giant Kelp Ecological Community (TAS), Kakadu and West Arnhem, Yampi Sounds and surrounds (WA), remnant wheatbelt woodlands (WA), and Raine Island (QLD).

In addition, there are a number of new and proposed IPAs which include many of the priority species listed in the government’s Action Plan including the malleefowl, red goshawk, night parrot, princess parrot, greater bilby, green turtle and the spectacled flying fox.

“It is absolutely vital that if these efforts are to grow Traditional Owners are not simply left as spectators on their own country”, says Paddy O’Leary.

“To ensure Indigenous land and sea management is taken seriously and strong capacity and cultural governance is supported in local and regional organisations we need government to be collaborators and supporters, not just contract managers”.

“Since approximately 2014 the federal environment departmental staff dedicated full time to supporting Indigenous Rangers and Indigenous Protected Areas has been cut by around 95%. That has to be rebuilt if the government is going to meet its agenda of doubling Indigenous Rangers over the next decade, and meeting the 30 by 2030 targets for protecting land and sea.”

“Tackling species decline is complex and involves ongoing projects and operational work to apply fire management, feral animal control, invasive weed reduction and other land and sea management operations over long timescales and large areas. Rebuilding capacity on this within government is essential if Australia is to truly support local and regional traditional owner led organisations on land and sea”, says Paddy O’Leary.

Country Needs People is an independent not-for-profit organisation working with and advocating for Indigenous land and sea management with a growing network of over 42 Aboriginal and Torres Strait partner organisations, supported by over 100,000 Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.

Rangers and Indigenous Protected Areas deliver strong outcomes for people, culture and nature.

Download the full Media Release in PDF format (311KB)

Image credit: Rodney Dekker