Thuwathu/Bujimulla (Wellesley Islands) in the Gulf of Carpentaria was recognised yesterday as an Indigenous Protected Area (IPA), supporting the efforts of traditional owners to conserve their cultural and natural heritage.
The new IPA will also support the efforts of the Australian Government and traditional owners to use the natural resources in the area more sustainably.
Covering more than 1.7 million hectares, the Thuwathu/Bujimulla (Wellesley Islands) IPA encompasses 30 islands and a diverse marine life, with extensive mangrove forests, vast salt pans, estuaries and beaches.
Federal Indigenous Affairs Minister, Senator Nigel Scullion, congratulated the Lardil, Yangkaal, Kaiadilt and Gangalidda people on this achievement which was celebrated today at a declaration ceremony on Mornington Island.
“This declaration is a credit to the work of the traditional owners, the Carpentaria Land Council Aboriginal Corporation and the Gulf Region Aboriginal Corporation,” Minister Scullion said.
“You have all worked hard to realise your vision for your country, which joins a further 60 IPAs protecting natural and cultural values right across Australia.
“The management of this area will help protect six of the world’s iconic species of marine turtles, including Flatback and Green turtles which nest on the islands, as well as dugongs and seabirds.”
Traditional owners will play a leading role in the ongoing management and protection of the country, including monitoring the dugong population, scientific research and working with local industry and authorities on land and sea management.
The Chair of the Gulf Region Aboriginal Corporation, Delma Loogatha, recognised the contributions of those involved.
“The Elders, together with the Gulf Region Aboriginal Corporation, have worked hard to get to this stage and the declaration of the Thuwatha/Bujimulla IPA is critical for protection of our culture and environment and it is an opportunity for traditional owners to step up and manage country,” Ms Loogatha said.
The Chair of the Carpentaria Land Council Aboriginal Corporation, Thomas Wilson, said: “The Land Council proudly supported the Traditional Owners of the Wellesley Islands to gain exclusive Native Title and assisted them to develop an IPA plan.
“This declaration will ensure that the Islands are managed sustainably for future generations.”
IPAs now cover more than 48 million hectares or more than 36 per cent of the National Reserve System, Australia’s network of protected areas.
Download media release:
2013-11-25 Wellesley IPA release.pdf