New Ngururrpa Indigenous Protected Area

Published: 12 Oct 2020

Country Needs People welcomes the declaration of the Ngururrpa Indigenous Protected Area – an area nearly half the size of Tasmania.

The declaration of the vast 2.9 million hectare Ngururrpa Indigenous Protected Area (IPA) in the West Australian Great Sandy Desert today is a big step forward for Australian conservation and the local Ngururrpa traditional owners who have worked for this for over a decade.Said Patrick O’Leary, Executive Director of Country Needs People, a national network of over 40 Australian Indigenous land and sea management bodies.

“We know Ngururrpa traditional owners have worked towards this for a long time, it’s a big achievement and we want to congratulate them on their efforts. Indigenous Protected Areas form just under half of all of Australia’s protected areas on land and are growing in importance as the frontline of protection for many threatened species like ngalku (bilbies), kakarratul (marsupial mole), and murrtja (brush-tailed mulgara).”

“We’ve been really proud to contribute in a small way to supporting the traditional owners leadership in developing the Ngururrpa IPA. The only way to manage biodiversity in the long run is through long term permanent backing of people on country. Indigenous Protected Areas allow management to be locally run, through traditional owners, while opening up opportunities for collaboration with scientists and researchers, creating a framework for sustainable jobs through ranger work, and reconnecting younger people with important cultural landscapes known and used by elders.” Mr O’Leary said

“Desert traditional owners are taking the initiative through Indigenous Protected Areas to build a framework for a sustainable future. There are plenty of challenges like feral cats and camels, invasive weeds, the need for careful fire management on a huge scale, and the Ngururrpa IPA will be a vital part of tackling these pressures into the future.”

Ngururrpa will add significantly to Australia’s protected area system including to the largest interconnected protected area on earth outside the Greenland ice sheet, the desert network of Indigenous Protected Areas stretching across Northern Territory, Queensland and South Australia. It’s important we support traditional owners’ efforts by backing in long term support for the work they are doing through Indigenous Protected Areas in the desert and across Australia.

We note that Indigenous Protected Areas have drawn support from Ministers Sussan Ley and Ken Wyatt, the coalition government as well as the Labor opposition, Greens and independents. We need that support to grow into the future. The landscapes are vast, the need for local jobs that protect culture and country is immense, and the rewards for Australia will be huge if we back the leadership of traditional owners in managing their own country.

Some background information:

  • Ngururrpa means ‘Our Country in The Middle.’

  • Ngururrpa Indigenous Protected area is 2.9 million hectares

  • Ngururrpa Indigenous Protected Area will connect to a large network of neighbouring

    Indigenous Protected Areas in the desert in Western Australia and the over the Northern

    Territory border.

  • Threatened species include marsupial mole, bilby, and brush tailed mulgara. The IPA is

    highly significant for conservation of bilby in particular.

  • Rock engravings in the Ngururrpa IPA date back to at least 12,000 years and evidence of

    human occupation just outside the IPA boundary dates back at least 50,000 years.

  • Ngururrpa language groups include Malka Walmajarri, Wangkatjungka, Ngarti and Kukatja

    peoples. Close neighbours are Pintupi to the South, Jaru to the North and Walpiri to the

    east. Language and stories are central to good management for traditional owners.

  • Ngururrpa country varies from the wetter north to the drier south, it contains spinifex and

    sandplain, ground and surface water, and bushtucker like karnti (bush potato).