Islands off the remote north Kimberley coast will be jointly managed by traditional owners and the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions’ (DBCA) Parks and Wildlife Service, following the release of a final management plan for the area.
The 10-year joint management plan covers an area of 3,200 hectares and comprises Lesueur Island Nature Reserve and the Niiwalarra Islands National Park, which includes Niiwalarra (Sir Graham Moore Island), Neawangu (Scorpion Island), Kim and Geranium islands.
The final joint management plan was developed following a historic Indigenous Land Use Agreement (ILUA) registered in 2017 between the Balanggarra Aboriginal Corporation and the State Government.
The Niiwalarra Islands are of immense cultural significance to the Kwini traditional owners, with significant sites and continued customary activities. They were also south-east Asian trepang processing settlements, exploration sites for early European voyages, and connected to Australian and American World War II heritage sites.
The islands are important turtle nesting sites and support a rich biodiversity of birds, reptiles, land snails, plants and geologically diverse landscapes and wetlands.
A draft version of the plan was open for public comment earlier this year. The plan was well received with all seven submissions indicating support for the proposals in the management plan.
The plan is available online at https://www.dbca.wa.gov.au/managementplans
As stated by Environment Minister Stephen Dawson:
“Formalising joint management and implementation of the ILUA have been important steps towards conserving the unique biodiversity and heritage of these islands in partnership with the Kwini people.
“DBCA already has a number of long-standing and successful joint management arrangements with traditional owner groups, particularly in the northern half of WA.
“The McGowan Government is committed to continuing to foster partnerships with traditional owners through key initiatives like the Aboriginal Ranger Program and Plan for Our Parks.”