New Indigenous Protected Area Declared in Australia

Australia's world-leading indigenous protected areas program continues to set new standards for conservation. At a ceremony in the desert of Western Australia on April 23, the 54th such area was created, extending the total amount of Australia now protected by its Traditional Owners to an area larger than California.

Covering 6.6 million hectares of traditional lands of the Martu people in central Western Australia, the new Birriliburu Indigenous Protected Area will safeguard a high number of vulnerable and threatened species, ancient rock art, and part of the historic Canning Stock Route. 

Little Sandy Desert

“The Australian Government is proudly supporting the Birriliburu native titleholders to dedicate this indigenous protected area,” Tony Burke, the Australian environment minister, says in a news release. “It's another great example of Indigenous Australians successfully managing their country while providing local employment through Indigenous Ranger programs.”  

Similar to national parks, these areas protect unique landscapes, plants, and animals but are managed directly by their Indigenous Owners with a combination of local traditional knowledge and contemporary science. In addition to conservation, these areas maintain traditional culture, support Indigenous Owners on their land, and allow skills development and employment. 

The Birriliburu Indigenous Protected Area stretches from the nationally significant Carnarvon Range or Katjarra in the local language to Constance Headland or Mungarlu along Western Australia's famous, 1,800-kilometer (1,120-mile) Canning Stock Route. It is the product of years of planning and consultation led by the area's Indigenous owners the Martu. For more than 25,000 years, the land's Traditional Owners have lived on and managed in the time-tested way this diverse landscape made up of everything from sand dunes and sandstone mountain ranges to salt lakes and claypans, in which rainwater collects.

“Places like the Birriliburu Indigenous Protected Area are an absolutely critical part of managing Australia's fragile Outback,” says Patrick O'Leary, Pew's manager of conservation partnerships. “These areas are needed not only to safeguard Australia's unique landscape, but because they provide much-needed jobs for local Indigenous people. These protected areas are a win-win for all Australians.”

Video: Birriliburu Indigenous Protected Area Declaration Ceremony, April 2013

Courtesy of Central Desert Native Title Services.

National Homeownership Month

Composite image of modern city network communication concept

Learn the Basics of Broadband from Our Limited Series

Sign up for our four-week email course on Broadband Basics

Quick View

How does broadband internet reach our homes, phones, and tablets? What kind of infrastructure connects us all together? What are the major barriers to broadband access for American communities?

Pills illustration
Pills illustration

What Is Antibiotic Resistance—and How Can We Fight It?

Sign up for our four-week email series The Race Against Resistance.

Quick View

Antibiotic-resistant bacteria, also known as “superbugs,” are a major threat to modern medicine. But how does resistance work, and what can we do to slow the spread? Read personal stories, expert accounts, and more for the answers to those questions in our four-week email series: Slowing Superbugs.