by Monique Paschke
Mayala Elder Lorna Hudson at the Mayala Country Plan launch. Image: KLC
New plan to protect hundreds of Kimberley islands and sea country
A plan designed to care for and protect hundreds of islands, interconnecting seas and reefs in the Kimberley’s Buccaneer Archipelago and King Sound has been released by Mayala Traditional Owners.
The Mayala Country Plan establishes a vision and action plan for managing the environmental and cultural values of 3,833 square kilometres of biologically unique land and sea country off the west Kimberley coast.
Key actions featured in the 10-year plan include the development of a Mayala Indigenous ranger team and the establishment of a Mayala Indigenous Protected Area. The Mayala people have applied to the Commonwealth Government for funding to establish an IPA and are now awaiting a decision.
Mayala Traditional Owner Janella Isaac said the Country Plan is an important tool for Mayala people to ensure their country is managed, looked after and enjoyed sustainably for years to come.
“Our cultural values are the key to keeping our traditional country safe and well for all to enjoy,” Janella said.
With no recorded feral animals, few weeds and limited wildfire, the more than 300 islands scattered across Mayala country are important, but fragile refuge areas for native wildlife.
Mammal species that are highly threatened on the Kimberley mainland are protected within the offshore islands of Mayala country, including threatened species, such as the Nabarlek, Northern Quoll and Golden- backed Tree-rat.
Mayala Traditional Owner Janine Mandijalu said the Country Plan was the result of numerus field trips, workshops and planning sessions to ensure the final document would respect the wishes of the Mayala old people and the needs of future generations.
“Mayala people’s interconnectedness with our islands and saltwater country is what makes this Country Plan unique,” she said.
In October 2018, the Federal Court of Australia recognised native title for the Mayala people – more than two decades after their native title claim was first lodged. With native title determined, the Mayala people can now fully exercise their rights and apply for funding for the establishment of a Mayala Indigenous Protected Area. A Mayala IPA would deliver the ‘missing link’ for a continuous Indigenous conservation corridor along the west Kimberley coastline.
Kimberley Land Council Deputy CEO Tyronne Garstone congratulated the Mayala native title holders on the development of the Country Plan just one year after their native title was recognised.
“The Mayala Country Plan delivers a comprehensive outline for how to deliver environmental, cultural, social and economic outcomes by the Mayala people, for the Mayala people,” he said.
“Establishing an Indigenous Protected Area will provide employment, get people back onto country, protect culture and maintain some of the last remaining wild refuges.
“IPAs are a proven way of successfully managing land and sea, while simultaneously aligning with the cultural and environmental values of Aboriginal people in the Kimberley.
“A Mayala IPA would ensure that Mayala native title holders are the key decision makers for and managers of their traditional lands – the country they have looked after for tens of thousands of years.
“It is clear that investment into ranger and IPA programs remains critical, with native title continuing to be recognised across the Kimberley and the establishment of many new PBCs in our region.”
The Mayala Country Plan was launched at Liyan-ngan Nyirrwa, Nyamba Nuru Yawuru, in Broome on Thursday, 24 October 2019. Mayala welcomes any offers of support to realise their vision, through application to Mayala Inninalang Aboriginal Corporation.
The development of the Mayala Country Plan was made possible thanks to the generous support of the WA Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions, Parks Australia and Country Needs People, and was facilitated by the Kimberley Land Council and planning consultant Tanya Vernes.
To access a copy, please visit https://www.klc.org.au/mayala-country-plan
Elderly Aboriginal artists allegedly forced to paint to pay off debts
[Lorena Allam and Helen Davidson, The Guardian]
At least three artists have been taken from their remote central Australian communities by a private art dealer who is forcing at least one of them to pay off debts of tens of thousands of dollars by producing new paintings, a leading Aboriginal art centre has alleged.
Vic Aboriginal treaty assembly elected. So what happens next?
[Joseph Dunstan, ABC]
The First Peoples' Assembly's main job is to hammer out the rules by which individual treaties will be negotiated between the Victorian Government and individual Aboriginal clans or nations.
Lessons from Aboriginal land, water management
by Tania Bawden
As large-scale agriculture, drought, bushfire and introduced species reduce Australia’s biodiversity and long-term prosperity, Indigenous academics are calling for a fresh look at the governance and practices of mainstream environmental management institutions.