Department of the Environment

Archived media releases and speeches

The Hon Tony Burke MP

Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities

The Hon. Warren Snowdon MP

Minister for Indigenous Health
Member for Lingiari

Australia’s largest land conservation area - ever

Media release
10 July 2012

A huge new reserve has been declared in Central Australia, becoming Australia’s largest ever land conservation zone and creating a major link in the Trans-Australia Eco-link corridor.

More than 10 million hectares, from red deserts to subtropical savannahs, will be protected as the Southern Tanami Indigenous Protected Area.

Minister for Indigenous Health and Member for Lingiari, Warren Snowdon, joined hundreds of  traditional owners near Sangsters Bore in the heart of the southern Tanami Desert to mark the decision.

“The Southern Tanami Indigenous Protected Area is the largest single land area ever dedicated to conservation in Australia - around the same size as Portugal or Hungary,” he said.

“The Warlpiri Rangers and traditional owners look after this vast area, controlling weeds and feral pests and surveying native wildlife. They combine Aboriginal knowledge and contemporary science to look after country, learning from elders about patch burning to rejuvenate country and reduce wildfire, and working with scientists to manage remote area burns.

“The Australian Government is providing $1.6 million over the next two years to support the Southern Tanami Indigenous Protected Area and its Working on Country rangers. Not only is this helping the environment, it will provide jobs on country, leading to better health and social outcomes for these desert communities.”

Environment Minister Tony Burke congratulated traditional owners for their ongoing work in caring for the region.

"Indigenous Rangers do some of the most important conservation work in the country," he said.

"They manage land and care for country with a depth of understanding which builds on centuries of work.

"Their work is world leading, is now part of an international network established at Rio+20 and will play an indispensable role in the Tanami Desert.

“The Southern Tanami Indigenous Protected Area is a critical part of the Trans-Australian Eco-link, a globally significant wildlife corridor that will stretch more than 3,500 kilometres from Arnhem Land to the Great Australian Bight.

“The desert sands of this important new reserve will protect a range of threatened species including the iconic bilby.

"The new IPA will protect more than 70 types of birds, including the beautiful princess parrot. When it rains waterbirds flock to large inland lakes such as Lake Surprise and Lake Mackay to feed and breed.

“For 15 years now Indigenous Protected Areas have been a conservation success story. Today they protect more than 36 million hectares across Australia.

“Indigenous Protected Areas are always a story of partnerships – between communities, governments and conservation agencies. I’d like to thank the Central Land Council for their hard work supporting traditional owners to establish this IPA and the Warlpiri Rangers." 

The Nature Conservancy has also generously invested $500,000 to help establish and manage the Southern Tanami Indigenous Protected Area.

The Nature Conservancy’s external affairs director Peter Taylor said the organisation was pleased to contribute to the establishment of the protected area, calling it a landmark step in Australia’s conservation legacy.

“We look forward to supporting the Warlpiri rangers as they plan for looking after their land, and we will play an advisory role around issues such as fire abatement, threatened species stewardship and feral species management,” he said.

For more information about the Southern Tanami IPA: