Indigenous Communities

and the Environment

Working on Country Nantawarrina South Australia

Establishing an Indigenous Protected Area

Developing a plan | Declaring an IPA | Implementing the plan | Monitoring | Funding | Assessing IPAs | Case studies

The land will exist forever.
It must be protected so that it will remain the same, so that it can be seen in the same way that the elders saw it in the past.
Our vision and hope is that Yolngu will continue to use the land for all the generations to come.
Dhimurru IPA

All photos courtesy of Dhimurru Land Management Aboriginal Corporation

All photos of Dhimurru Indigenous Protected Area courtesy of Dhimurru Land Management Aboriginal Corporation (left) Turtle measuring, Jane Dermer. (right) Turtle population monitoring. (bottom) Ranger guided walk, Phil Wise.

Indigenous communities apply to the Government for support to consult with their community and other stakeholders on whether an Indigenous Protected Area is the right future for their country. They then apply to the Government for support to consult with their community and other stakeholders on what an Indigenous Protected Area declaration would mean for them.

Indigenous landowners thinking about establishing an Indigenous Protected Area on their land can also access Government support for legal advice and advice on cultural heritage and conservation aspects of their proposedIndigenous Protected Area.


Developing a Plan of Management

Before Indigenous landowners declare their country as an Indigenous Protected Area, they prepare a plan to manage their country and its cultural values.

Developing the management plan may involve:

This planning and consultation stage leads to a draft management plan and a decision on whether anIndigenous Protected Areadeclaration will proceed.

If the Indigenous Protected Area's draft management plan is completed before the consultation stage, developing Indigenous Protected Areas can sometimes receive funding to implement some of the activities in the draft plan while they work towards declaration.

IPA management plans identify:

IPA Declaration

Communities need to have a ratified plan of management in place before an Indigenous Protected Area can be declared. Landowners choose to declare the Indigenous Protected Area and invite the Austalian Government to recognise the declaration.


Implementing the Plan of Management

A declared Indigenous Protected Area actively managed in line with the plan of management.

Activities depend on the individual needs of each Indigenous Protected Area, but work usually includes weed and feral animal control, fire management, work to conserve cultural heritage and setting up infrastructure to manage visitor access.



Declared Indigenous Protected Areas have programs in place to monitor and evaluate the work done on country.

The Indigenous Protected Areas are part of a national monitoring, evaluation, reporting and improvement (MERI) program under Caring for our Country, ensuring that the conservation aims of each Indigenous Protected Area are met.

IPA communities work with government agencies and other partners such as conservation groups and universities to keep track of management activities and their results.

The results of this monitoring are used to adjust management activities so work is done as efficiently as possible and future management plans take into account the lessons learned.

IPA monitoring and evaluation is also designed to pick up information on the broader social and cultural benefits of managing land as an Indigenous Protected Area.