Director of National Parks
Caring for country - Indigenous Protected Areas land managers meet at Booderee
22 March 2011
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More than 200 Indigenous land managers and rangers from across Australia are gathering at Booderee this week to explore how Indigenous Protected Areas protect our environment and help Close the Gap on Indigenous disadvantage.
Park manager Scott Suridge said the Wreck Bay community and Booderee National Park staff welcomed the land managers and rangers at a dinner under the stars last night.
"It's wonderful to see so many people from all over Australia ready to share their stories - a great opportunity for us at Booderee to learn more about how our Indigenous colleagues operate," he said.
The land managers and rangers look after Indigenous Protected Areas (IPAs). Indigenous Protected Areas are an area of Indigenous-owned land or sea whose traditional owners have entered into an agreement with the Australian Government to manage their country for conservation.
Today these areas cover nearly 24 million hectares, protecting a wide variety of habitats from the islands off Tasmania's coast to the central desert and the wetlands of the Top End.
IPA director Bruce Rose said these protected areas not only provide environmental benefits for all Australians but also help to strengthen culture and to Close the Gap in some of this country's most remote communities.
At last night's dinner Mr Rose also paid tribute to two men heavily involved in the Indigenous Protected Areas program. "It was a great honour to announce the inaugural winners of the Kevin McLeod Award and the Steve Szabo Award," he said.
"Adam Walker from Tyrendarra Indigenous Protected Area in Victoria has won the Kevin McLeod Award for his mentoring of many junior rangers. Many people around here would know and remember Uncle Kev from the Wreck Bay community - Booderee was his home.
"Sadly he passed away almost a year ago today. Uncle Kev joined the public service in 1970 and played a central role developing policy in natural and cultural heritage management and furthering Indigenous training and employment. He was well known and respected for his generosity and mentoring of younger staff.
"Nywaigi traditional owner Phil Rist from Queensland's wet tropics has won the Steve Szabo Award for his outstanding leadership of the Girringun Aboriginal Corporation. Steve was one of the founders of the Indigenous Protected Areas program - a man who possessed a great ability to inspire others through his strong ethics and amazing skills and knowledge.
"Adam and Phil are continuing the traditions that Uncle Kev and Steve started when the Indigenous Protected Areas program was introduced more than 10 years ago - a pride from working on country, providing leadership to communities and helping pass on important knowledge and culture to younger generations.
'The Indigenous Protected Areas Managers' Meeting is on at Booderee National Park until 24 March. For more information visit booderee.gov.au and environment.gov.au/indigenous/ipa/ Media Contact: Ring Miranda Schooneveldt on 0428 630 910