Indigenous Communities

and the Environment

Nantawarrina Indigenous Protected Area

Nantawarrina Indigenous Protected Area

Flinders Ranges and Gammon Ranges National Parks | Declared in August 1998

Australia’s first Indigenous Protected Area (IPA), Nantawarrina, was declared on 26 August 1998.

Nantawarrina spreads across 58,000 hectares of rugged terrain between the Flinders Ranges and Gammon Ranges National Parks. A key attraction for visitors and campers as they pass through the ranges, this hardy country is characterised by stunning limestone hills, siltstone flats, springs and waterholes.

Nantawarrina IPA is managed by the Adnyamathanha people of the Nepabunna Aboriginal community and land titles are held by the South Australian Aboriginal Lands Trust. As well as protecting Australian animals, such as the yellow footed rock wallaby, the IPA is of great cultural significance to the people as a birthplace, traditional tribal territory and a place of mythologically important sites. With the new life the IPA has breathed into the community, the country is now also a source  of employment for future generations.

Previous land management practices have damaged the land, and feral animals pose a major challenge. Through the IPA, the Nepabunna community is addressing these challenges, restoring the landscape and protecting its heritage sites.

The focus of Nantawarrina’s Traditional Owners is to create a balance between conservation of natural and culture heritage, and economic sustainability for the benefit of future generations. This is reflected in the way they manage the IPA, working to create long-term employment through a bush foods nursery in nearby Nepabunna and involving the whole community in the IPA’s land management work.

Revegetation, feral animal and weed control, cultural interpretation and maintenance of visitor facilities are the main focuses of work on the IPA, and great progress is being made. The number of donkeys, goats and rabbits in the area has been dramatically reduced.

Activities are also underway to promote tourism – improving signage, campsite facilities and access tracks, as well as installing a cultural centre and a variety of cultural tours.

As well as rehabilitating their land, the journey undertaken by the Adnyamathanha people to develop and manage Nantawarrina has revitalised their community.

Nantawarrina’s managers say it is a happier place since its declaration as an IPA in 1998. Back then the small, close knit community was struggling to keep its young people from moving away. There were few jobs in the area, young people didn’t have much to look forward to, and relationships between elders and the younger generations were suffering.

The IPA has brought a sense of purpose and cultural reconnection these days, because looking after the IPA is everybody’s business. Elders spend time on the land teaching cultural values and bush skills and women play an important role through seed collection and weeding. By giving young people land management work to do, such as fencing off waterholes and protecting cultural sites, many social and behavioural problems are addressed.

News of the IPA’s success has reached far beyond its borders. In 2000 Nantawarrina received an award from the United Nations Environment program, joining the Global 500 Roll of Honour for Environmental Achievement.

The Nepabunna people are very proud of their achievements in land rehabilitation and believe their willingness to experiment with different seed germination and growing techniques will result in a superior land for future generations.

The IPA is managed under International Union for Conservation of Nature categories: