Dhimurru Indigenous Protected Area (IPA) comprises approximately 550,000 hectares of Yolŋu land and sea country in northeast Arnhem Land. The IPA puts into practice Dhimurru’s Vision Statement which sets out Dhimurru’s commitment to support Yolŋu Traditional Owners in the management of their land and sea country and to manage recreation areas designated for the use of visitors.
IPAs are areas of land and/or sea country voluntarily dedicated by Traditional Owners as non-legislated protected areas, recognised by all Australian governments as part of the National Reserve System of Protected Areas (NRSPA) and managed by Indigenous Rangers and partner organisations according to protected area guidelines of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. Dhimurru IPA is one of 75 IPAs across Australia which together contribute about 44% of the total area of the NRSPA - which also includes all of Australia’s national parks and other conservation reserves. A map showing the location of IPAs across Australia is available here.
Dhimurru IPA is supported by the National Indigenous Australians Agency's (Commonwealth Government) Indigenous Advancement Strategy Programs, that provide assistance in IPA planning and management. In addition, many other government and non-government partners share their expertise and resources to achieve the conservation and sustainability goals of the IPA and support Dhimurru Aboriginal Corporation in its work..
Dhimurru’s Rangers are responsible for the day to day management of the IPA in collaboration with partner agencies, supported by the continued hands-on involvement of the Yolŋu community in taking care of their traditional country. Traditional resource management practices, such as the use of fire, are critical to the maintenance of the natural and cultural values of the IPA.
Visitors to the recreation areas can make a valuable contribution to the sustainable management of the IPA by complying with access conditions associated with the permits issued by Dhimurru Aboriginal Corporation.
History of Dhimurru IPA
In 2000 Yolŋu Traditional Owners made a voluntary IPA declaration over approximately 101,000 ha of their traditional country, which included 92,000 hectares of their land, and about 9,000 ha of their sea country incorporating previously registered marine sacred sites.
This declaration established the first IPA in the Northern Territory, and the first IPA in Australia to include both terrestrial and marine areas. The management plan for this initial stage of Dhimurru IPA is available here.
In 2006 Dhimurru launched theYolnguwu Monuk Gapu Wanga Sea Country Plan, explaining Yolŋu rights, interests and responsibilities in sea country and foreshadowing the extension of the IPA to include a larger marine area.
In April 2013, at a memorial ceremony in Arnhem Land, Yolŋu Wanga Watangu (Traditional Owners) formally dedicated additional areas of their land and sea country to Dhimurru Indigenous Protected Area, increasing Dhimurru IPA to approximately 550,000 hectares and extending the IPA’s sea country boundary out to 40km from coastline.
This historic announcement was made in honour and recognition of Mr Yunupingu; friend, mentor and past Dhimurru Senior Cultural Advisor, his many contributions, and his vision of a unified land and sea protected area.
“We have great pleasure in honouring our old friend, mentor, leader, and founding member Mr Yunupingu,” said Dhimurru’s Managing Director Wurrulnga Marika, together with Dhimurru’s Directors. “On this important and solemn occasion we are dedicating our manbuynga ga rulyapa, our sea country, as part of the Dhimurru Indigenous Protected Area.”
Dhimurru IPA Sea Country Management Plan was launched in May 2013 at the World Indigenous Network Land and Sea Managers' Conference in Darwin. It was developed in collaboration with relevant Commonwealth and NT Government agencies - as well as commercial and recreational fishing stakeholders - and set the stage for industry, Government and members of the public with interests in these seas to work together with Yolngu to look after sea country as a “Collaborative Management Zone” incorporated in the Dhimurru Indigenous Protected Area.
The latest IPA Management Plan (Dhimurru IPA Management Plan 2015 to 2022) incorporates all aspects of the Dhimurru IPA bringing both the terrestrial and the marine components together. This plan is dedicated to Djawa Yununpigu recognising his role as a founding member of Dhimurru, one of Dhimurru's first Rangers, and his current role as a Director. Djawa has been part of the Dhimurru Vision since we started in 1992. The Management Plan was launched at the Garma Festival in 2015 .