Aboriginal Rangers will be recognised as conservationofficers under changes to the Territory Parks and Wildlife Conservation Act1976, introduced to Parliament this week.
The amendments will add a new category of AboriginalRangers as conservation officers, conferring on them greater powers for theprotection and management of traditional lands.
Aboriginal owned and/or managed land occupies around halfof the Territorys land mass and 85 per cent of the coastline; this keyelection commitment specifically recognises the role of Aboriginal Rangergroups in managing these natural and cultural assets.
There are currently around 1000 Aboriginal rangersoperating across 46 established Aboriginal Ranger groups and managing 460,000square kilometres of land.
At a nationallevel, the capabilities of Aboriginal Ranger groups in compliancemanagement are already well recognised, with Rangers playingimportant roles in fisheries management, border security and quarantineprotection. These amendments seek to bolster their compliance and enforcementpowers.
The amendments are in line with the TerritoryLabor Government’s broader policy of returning decision-making and governanceto local communities, so they can better manage their own affairs and protecttheir country and their culture.
The amendments are the result of extensiveconsultation with Ranger groups across the Territory, as well as Land Councilsand other key stakeholder groups.
Underpinning the amendments will be aframework ensuring Rangers are given the support and training they need to usethese powers effectively to prevent illegal activity and other threats on theirland and achieve good outcomes for their communities and their country.
As noted by Minister forTourism, Sport and Culture, Lauren Moss:
Aboriginal Rangers play acritical role in protecting country and natural resources right across theTerritory; these amendments better recognise the work they do, as well asgiving them more compliance and enforcement powers to better manage theirlands.
We want to work with Traditional Owners and land managers to preserveand protect land into the future and these new powers will better supportAboriginal Ranger programs and conservation activities on Aboriginal land.
Aboriginal people have long held cultural and traditionalresponsibilities to protect and manage their land and sea country.
Its important thatwe work together to protect the environment and this ensures Aboriginal Rangershave the powers they need to effectively manage their traditional lands.