Indigenous Protected Areas: Conservation and Community Development

Imagine an area roughly the size of Texas owned and managed by Indigenous people under a voluntary partnership agreement with the Federal Government. That is the combined area of land, sea and freshwater “country” that is now formally set aside by Aboriginal people and the federal government in Australia to promote conservation and community development.

The Australian Indigenous Protected Areas (IPAs) program began in 1997, and has already led to significant social (employment, training and community development) and biodiversity conservation outcomes (see IPAs: Positive Results). IPAs now comprise some 44% of Australia’s national reserve system and more than 700 indigenous people are employed in natural and cultural heritage management roles. Many IPAs have developed a community-led “Healthy Country Plan” to guide IPA stewardship that define the roles and responsibilities for key stakeholders in specific IPAs.

Over the past week, Nautilus Impact Investing hosted a series of seminars for Alaska native, non-profit and government staff on the Australian experience with Healthy Country Planning and IPAs. The seminars were led by Stuart Cowell who is a Director of Conservation Management Pty Ltd  and one of the leading mentors and coaches for the Healthy Country Planning process. Stuart recently worked with First Nations peoples in Canada on application of Healthy Country Planning.

For more information on Healthy Country Planning, Indigenous Protected Areas and related topics, please contact Ian Dutton at NII.