The Kuuku I'yu Northern Kaanju Ngaachi Wenlock and Pascoe Rivers Indigenous Protected Area (IPA) was declared 11 years ago on 4th June 2008 at a ceremony at Chuulangun on the upper Wenlock River on Cape York Peninsula, northern Australia. 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. Our IPA Funding Contract with the Australian Government has been extended until 2023.
The Australian Government's (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). IPAs "are areas of land and sea country owned or managed by Indigenous groups, which are voluntarily managed as a protected area for biodiversity conservation through an agreement with the Australian Government." (Indigenous Protected Areas)
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. This plan was reviewed in 2011 and again in 2018. Our IPA plans are available to view upon request from the Chuulangun Aboriginal Corporation.
Our IPA Management Plan works alongside the following plans and strategies developed by the Chuulangun Aboriginal Corporation:
Kaanju Ngaachi IPA Management Plan (2005, 2011, 2018)
Northern Kaanju Fire Strategy
Northern Kaanju Weed Management Plan
Kaanju Ngaachi IPA Fauna Survey
Kaanju Homelands Feral Animal Management Strategy
Kuuku I'yu Fire Strategy Kuuku I'yu Northern Kaanju Ngaachi Cultural Heritage Management Plan
Kuuku I'yu Rock Art Project 2014: Report on Cultural Heritage Management Issues
Kuuku I'yu Carbon Business Planning and Feasibility Study
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 over a decade include:
In 2018 when our Indigenous Rangers contract was approaching its end, we were advised by the Director, Far North Queensland, Indigenous Affairs Group, Department of Prime Minister & Cabinet (PM&C), that our contract would not be extended beyond 30 June 2018. This advice contradicted information on Federal Member for Leichardt Warren Entsch's website announcing funding of $448,466 over the next three years for Chuulangun Aboriginal Corporation: Kaanju Ngaachi Wenlock and Pascoe Rivers Rangers. We highlighted this fact via email and phone call to the PM&C Director and Advisers but it was never addressed. Finally, in August 2018 we were advised that $147,415 was approved to deliverRanger services for the 2018/19 financial year. The contract did not start until October 2018. In June 2019 we were advised our contract would be extended to 31 December 2019 with an additional $37,370. This uncertainty of funding, contradictory and changing advice has disrupted the employment of rangers over that period and there is still uncertainty of funding for rangers beyond 2019 to undertake vital on-ground work on the IPA.
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 maintenance of campgrounds and installation of signage, cultural heritage surveys, fire management and maintenance of property, plant and equipment.
Our rangers also undertake networking activities. 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. In March 2019 one of the Chuulangun Rangers attended the Indigenous Land and Sea Ranger Workshop and Indigenous Women Ranger Network Workshop held in Cairns. In May 2019 we were lucky to have the Lamalama Rangers visit the IPA to help open up the Chuulangun Campgrounds for the tourist season and to assist with clean-up after Cyclone Trevor which passed directly over Chuulangun in March 2019.
To view the short film Northern Kaanju Ngaachi Wenlock and Pascoe Rivers Indigenous Protected Area please click here.