Indigenous Protected Areas at risk

Indigenous Protected Areas (IPAs) enable environmental conservation of Australia’s most vital ecosystems; they facilitate the prosperity of Indigenous communities as well as generating a range of cultural and social benefits.

In 2015, IPAs are under threat. The Federal Government has refused to ensure future funding for the Caring for Country and IPA programs. IPAs have NO secure funding after 2018.

Since 2001 Friends of the Earth’s Barmah-Millewa Campaign, now known as the River Country Campaign, has stood in solidarity with Indigenous communities working to protect country. Now, we are calling on the Federal Government to allocate long-term, adequate funding to the IPA and Caring for Country programs.

Today, there are over 55 million hectares of land included in the IPA program. The expansion and continuity of IPAs would ensure protection and rehabilitation of precious ecosystems as well as the revival of threatened species. Indigenous people have unique knowledge and skills to manage Australia’s natural ecosystems.

At FoE we strive to ensure the protection of rare and unique landscapes. IPAs encourage and endorse the role of Indigenous Nations as custodians achieving sustainable outcomes.

Crucially, IPAs recognise the economic, cultural and spiritual well-being of Indigenous peoples.
Expansion of IPAs leads to increased job opportunities for Indigenous communities. Hundreds of Indigenous rangers are empowered to work on country through sustainable employment under the Caring for Country program.

Today there is an enormous capacity for IPA’s to expand, if Traditional Owners are provided with appropriate opportunities .

Current funding for IPAs is minimal, with no long-term funding security past 2018. The IPA program has proven to be an effective collaboration between Traditional Owners and the Australian government.

Friends of the Earth is advocating for:

1. increased funding for land management and Indigenous rangers

2. Long term security of funding for IPAs

3. Support to expand the IPA reserve system

4. Greater opportunities for Traditional Owner land management on other public land


We are currently working to support current IPA conservation goals and advocate long term commitments to promote the expansion of this program. We are preparing a report on the current state of the IPA program and the potential for establishment and expansion of Indigenous managed land in NSW and Victoria. This infographic has been produced to raise awareness and recognition of the importance of Indigenous peoples’ rights to care their country.

Increased funding and ongoing commitment is critical to ensuring our national reserve system is protected in the long term as well as solidifying and improving the outcomes for Indigenous Nations through cultural continuity and employment opportunities.

Watch this space for potential actions in a sustained campaign to protect Indigenous Ranger programs and securing the future for IPAs and Indigenous Communities living on country.

Background reading: Article from The Guardian. Journalist: Helen Davidson, May 7, 2015. Indigenous rangers call for expansion of ‘world-leading’ jobs scheme