Indigenous Communities

and the Environment

Ranger guided walk  Dhimurru Northern Territory

Northern Tanami Indigenous Protected Area

Map showing the location of Northern Tanami Indigenous Protected Area

Northern Territory | Declared in April 2007

The IPA is helping create good jobs, like rangers to take care of country. It is giving young people opportunities day by day.
Young people really enjoy working on the IPA, and old people enjoy going out with them. Women really enjoy taking children out for stories.
Billy Bunter, Gurindji man

Photos: (Left) Crimson finch. (Right) Ladies in duckpond. (Bottom) IPA ranger.

Photos: (Left) Crimson finch. (Right) Ladies in duckpond. (Bottom) IPA ranger.

Where the desert meets sub-tropical savannah, the plains and wetlands of the Northern Tanami Indigenous Protected Area (IPA) - declared in April 2007 - are teeming with life.

Covering around 4 million hectares of the northern Tanami Desert, this vast IPA is managed from the small community of Lajamanu in the Northern Territory, 900 kilometres south of Darwin.

Around two-thirds of the IPA is of high conservation value and has been identified in the Northern Territory Parks Masterplan as being a Biodiversity Conservation Hotspot.

The land is a refuge for vulnerable species including the greater bilby and great desert skink, and is a haven for the endangered Gouldian finch. The IPA also supports more than 30 threatened species of plants, and includes vast areas of hummock grassland which is otherwise poorly protected in the Northern Territory.

The Northern Tanami IPA encompasses a dramatic array of landscapes, from alluvial sandplains and broad paleodrainage channels in the south to sandstone outcrops and laterite plateaus, finally giving way to the escarpments and black soil plains of the upper Victoria River catchment in the north.

Arid zone wetlands are an outstanding feature of this desert landscape. Ephemeral aquatic ecosystems explode into new life with the monsoonal rains, supporting wallabies and emus, traditional resources of the Aboriginal landowners, and providing breeding habitat for colonies of stunning migratory waterbirds and waders.

This region's rare and healthy ecosystems are the result of generations of Indigenous owners caring for country. Today's IPA activities continue land management practices that stretch back tens of thousands of years.

Much of the IPA land is in extremely good condition, but it is under threat from wildfire, weeds and feral animals. The day to day work controlling these threats is carried out by the local Wulaign Rangers, a group set up by the Central Land Council and the Wulaign Outstation Resource Centre. Traditional ways of managing the land, like controlled burning, are used alongside contemporary western land management methods so the IPA gets the best of both approaches. Controlled burning prevents property damage as well as reducing the impact of wildfire to ecologically and culturally important areas.

Rangers also monitor native wildlife, control pests and fence off key areas to protect native species habitats and areas of cultural significance.

The declaration of the Northern Tanami IPA provides a range of employment and training opportunities for local communities.

The Northern Tanami IPA is managed in line with International Union for Conservation of Nature Category VI - Managed Resource Protected Areas: protected area managed mainly for the sustainable use of natural ecosystems

Download the Northern Tanami Indigenous Protected Area - fact sheet (PDF - 712KB)