Kimberley Land and Sea Management
Kimberley Aboriginal people have been looking after and managing their land and sea country for more than 40,000 years and are still doing this today. Looking after Country is an integral part of our vision at the KLC and we have been working with Indigenous land managers to achieve the cultural and environmental outcomes they want to see happen on the ground.
Kimberley Aboriginal people have a cultural, spiritual, and social connection to country that exists and adapts with time and place. Indigenous law, culture, language, knowledge, traditions, stories and people are embedded in the landscape. They are interconnected and dependant on each other.
Kimberley Aboriginal people have a responsibility to look after country, just as it looks after them. Our land and sea unit started in 1998. Our projects are diverse and cover all aspects of cultural and natural resource management. All of our activities are underpinned by Indigenous cultural values which provide a strong foundation for governance.
Some of our key activities include:
- Traditional knowledge transfer from old people to young people
- Fire management
- Cultural and environmental services
- Cultural enterprise development
Indigenous-owned land in the Kimberley
The Kimberley region covers about 423,000 sq km – an area almost twice the size of the state of Victoria, or equivalent to the size of California. Indigenous rangers and Traditional Owners are the leading land managers for the region and are using cultural and natural resource management to protect, enhance and conserve the unique biodiversity values of the region. They are doing this through their native title rights and interests, declaring Indigenous Protected Areas and National Heritage Listing.
Native title has been determined across more than 70 per cent of the Kimberley, legally recognising the rights and interests Aboriginal people have to these land and sea areas. Much of this area has also been determined by the Federal Court of Australia as being exclusive possession native title land – meaning Indigenous people have sole responsibility for management of, and access to these areas. As the custodians of their traditional lands, Kimberley Aboriginal people have been using their native title rights to manage their country and develop strategic plans to create sustainable businesses based on culture and country.
Indigenous Protected Areas
The Kimberley is home to eight Indigenous Protected Areas that are managed by Aboriginal people to conserve unique ecosystems and promote habitat corridors. Indigenous Protected Areas are declared across exclusive possession native title land and cover more than 90,000 sq km of country in the Kimberley. National Heritage Listing The Indigenous cultural values of the Kimberley were National Heritage Listed on August 31, 2011 cementing the region as a strong and significant Aboriginal place. It is the largest area in Australia to be protected through National Heritage Listing and includes an area of land and sea in the west Kimberley that is more than 50 per cent Indigenous-owned and controlled and almost entirely covered by native title claims or determinations. Kimberley Aboriginal people were the driving force behind the National Heritage Listing process which included more than two years of consultations and assessments. The KLC is working with the National Heritage Listing cultural advisory committee to develop a database in which to hold all the stories and traditional ecological knowledge that was captured as part of the project. A legal policy and Indigenous values management framework has also been developed to pull together already existing community conservation and land management plans and link them together to form a regional plan for management of Aboriginal lands in the Kimberley.
Having strong partnerships with various agencies and departments has been pivotal to the success of our land and sea unit and our various conservation and natural resource management projects. We work with many external agencies including the Federal Government, State Government, non-government environmental organisations and philanthropic groups. In the past two years we have also established a network of Indigenous land and sea managers from across the world that we have built long-lasting friendships with.