On 4th June 2008 at a ceremony at Chuulangun the Kaanju Ngaachi Wenlock and Pascoe Rivers Indigenous Protected Area (IPA) was officially declared. This is the first stage of the Kuuku I'yu Northern Kaanju Ngaachi IPA which covers an area of 197,500 hectares of culturally, spiritually and biologically significant country. The Kaanju Ngaachi IPA is the 25th IPA to be declared in Australia and the first on Cape York Peninsula.
The Australian Government's Indigenous Protected Areas (IPA) Programme "aims to establish a network of protected areas which includes a representative sample of all types of ecosystems across the country" (Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts). Importantly, the programme supports Aboriginal people to manage their homelands in accordance with their laws and customs and to transfer knowledge of the land and resources to future generations.
The Kaanju Ngaachi Wenlock and Pascoe Rivers IPA is managed by the Chuulangun Aboriginal Corporation for the Kuuku I'yu Northern Kaanju Traditional Custodians. The key aspirations, actions and milestones for the protected area are set out in the Kaanju IPA Management Plan which was prepared in 2005. In 2011 this plan was updated to cover period 2011 to 2017. Both plans are available to view upon request from the Chuulangun Aboriginal Corporation.
Land management philosophy
The Kuuku I'yu Northern Kaanju worldview, in particular governance and cosmology, underlie all aspects of our relationships with homelands, including land ownership, land management practices and regimes, and our rights and obligations in regard to land and resource use and management. Kuuky I'yu Northern Kaanju governance and cosmology also determine contemporary Indigenous management of homelands and is thus the underlying philosophy for appropriate management and planning for homelands, and the philosophy driving the management plans for our homelands.
The guiding principles for the management of the IPA are:
Interconnection of the cultural and biological (the biocultural) - Kuuku I'yu Northern Kaanju people do not separate out the natural landscape from the cultural one as to do so is irrational
Our ancient governance is as relevant today as in the pre-colonial past - we manage our Ngaachi in accordance with indigenous laws based on bloodline and ancient systems of governance and we expect others to respect this
Working together for mutual benefit - we work with our neighbours and people in the region to support the local economy, sustainable land management and sustainable livelihoods on country
Capacity-building the homelands - we develop homelands-based projects, education and training that will enhance the capacity of people living on homelands
Correlating the Indigenous and western sciences - we incorporate, where appropriate, Indigenous knowledge with western scientific processes providing beneficial outcomes for natural and cultural resource management policy and practice.
IUCN Management Category
The Kaanju Ngaachi IPA is managed according to IUCN Protected Area Category V:
Protected Landscape/Seascape: Protected Areas managed mainly for landscape/seascape conservation and recreation
Area of land, with coasts and seas as appropriate, where the interaction of people and nature over time has produced an area of distinct character with significant aesthetic, cultural and/or ecological value, and often with high biological diversity. Safeguarding the integrity of this traditional interaction is vital to the protection, maintenance and evolution of such an area. (IUCN. 1994. Guidelines for Protected Area Management Categories. CNPPA with the assistance of WCMC. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK.)
Significant achievements for the IPA in recent years include:
The Chuulangun Rangers undertake a range of activities across the IPA including mapping and control of weeds and feral animals, fauna surveys in collaboration with western scientists, third party management including the establishment of campgrounds and installation of signage, wetland condition assessments, cultural heritage surveys, fire management and maintenance of property, plant and equipment. The Rangers also undertake training courses towards the completion of Certificates in Conservation and Land Management (CALM). For more details visit the Chuulangun Rangers page.
Representatives from the Kaanju Ngaachi IPA attended the inaugural World Indigenous Network Conference (WINC13) held in Darwin in May 2013. This was a great opportunity to network with Indigenous people from across Australia and overseas and to communicate about the IPA.