Until recently many Aboriginal people were denied access to their ancestral lands and the opportunities to manage Country in a way that preserves and enhances its cultural and ecological values and connectivity. This situation is changing with the creation of Indigenous Protected Areas (IPAs) around Australia including in North Eastern New South Wales, where Aboriginal land managers are directly involved in the management of formalised conservation lands. IPAs currently make up 46% of our National Reserve System and in NSW provide core habitat and landscape connectivity for a diversity of species.
The NSW Nature Conservation Council’s (NCC) Federally funded Firesticks Project is working with a collaboration that involves personnel from four Indigenous Protected Areas, three Aboriginal Land Councils, the Northern Rivers Fire and Biodiversity Consortium, University of Technology (Sydney), the Office of Environment and Heritage and with valued support from the NSW Rural Fire Service.
Additionally, the project is raising awareness on a regional, State and National scale of the high biodiversity conservation value of Aboriginal Lands, particularly for maintaining populations of Threatened species. Through ongoing systematic monitoring the NCC Firesticks project has recorded an overall total of 58 Threatened fauna species in the four IPAs, including a high proportion for which the IPAs provide core habitat. Eleven of these Threatened species are listed under both the Commonwealth’s Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act and the NSW Threatened Species Conservation (TSC) Act.
We would like to acknowledge that this short film was made with the valued support from Film Producer Jamie Robertson and features the many Aboriginal Rangers and community groups that are making this work possible. The film highlights the importance of Aboriginal Lands (including IPAs) for restoring cultural connections to country and the social, environmental and economic opportunities that can be achieved with ongoing recognition, support and management of these very special areas.
The NCC Firesticks Program is currently funded until June 2017 and the IPA program has no guarantee of ongoing funding after June 2018. To support ongoing funding for IPA programs in NSW and across Australia go to http://www.countryneedspeople.org.au for further information on the IPA Program and the IPA and Minyumai Social Return on Investment Report go to https://www.dpmc.gov.au/indigenous-affairs/environment/indigenous-protected-areas-ipas
The Firesticks Project would like to acknowledge Elders Past and Present from the Bandjalang, Banbai and Ngoorabul Nations and the ongoing involvement and support of the IPA rangers, community members and Government agency representatives that have contributed to this film.