Karajarri Traditional Lands Association was formed in 2002 and it manages more than 30,000 square kilometers of jurrar (coastal areas) and pirra (inland areas) in the Kimberley region of Western Australia. If you trace a line north up the coast, our native title area starts at Eighty Mile Beach and finishes just shy of Broome’s Roebuck Bay. It then stretches inland, all the way into the Great Sandy Desert. Our people believe all forms of life and ecological processes, including the landscape, people, language and customs, are all connected to Pukarrikarrajangka, the Dreamtime. Karajarri country is the source of spirit, culture and language for our people. We understand that it’s crucial to both look after our country, and to create sustainable futures and opportunities for our people on country. The work of our Registered Native Title Body Corporate is directed by our cultural leaders and Karajarri Traditional Owners.
INDIGENOUS PROTECTED AREA
The Karajarri Indigenous Protected Area is a unique space encompassing spidering turquoise creeks, dynamic reef systems, pristine beaches, and the undulating dunes and waterholes of the Great Sandy Desert. It's located less than two hours south of Broome and is looked after by a team of local Karajarri Rangers, funded through the Kimberley Land Council. One of the responsibilities of the rangers is to monitor and protect a variety of wildlife, including the nationally endangered bilby, speckled hair wallabies, dugongs, humpback whales, flat back turtles, migratory birds and reptiles. Over the last twelve months, Karajarri Traditional Lands Association has been liaising with the Kimberley Agriculture and Pastoral Company to fence off several important springs and sensitive coastal dune systems that have been badly damaged by cattle. It was no small task: one of the reserves was the size of 3000 footy fields! We've also been involved in high level discussions with the WA State Government, which have resulted in a new jointly managed conservation park spanning 230,000 hectares. This park will protect the internationally significant wetlands of the Eighty Mile Beach Ramsar site.
Our committed crew of 12 rangers is tasked with looking after Karajarri country. Our team includes a women’s Ranger Coordinator, a men’s Ranger Coordinator, an IPA Coordinator, an Admin Officer and a Karajarri Cultural Programs Coordinator. We carry out a range of activities aligned with our cultural values and practice both traditional and Western styles of land management. Our work is guided by detailed plans that have been signed off by KTLA and our old people. Some of the activities we're involved in include fire management, fencing projects to protect significant sites, marine surveys and weed management. Our Karajarri women rangers have also been working together with the Yiriman Project and Bridging the Landscapes to develop a social enterprise concept based on bush medicine. Our rangers are funded through the Working on Country and Green Army programs and are run through the Kimberley Land Council.
FEATURED PROJECT: KIMBERLEY MARINE RESEARCH PROJECT
KTLA is proud to be a part of the Kimberley Marine Research Program (Kimberley Indigenous Saltwater Project). The three main areas of the program are to; 1) integrate Traditional Ecological Knowledge management and practices into Kimberley marine conservation and management; 2) develop a standard research protocol for land and sea research in the Kimberley; 3) develop a standard framework for marine monitoring in the Kimberley with Indigenous ranger groups. So far, our involvement has resulted in some interesting initial findings. For a start, the sheer volume of research proposals takes up a significant amount of resources both in terms of paid staff from numerous Indigenous organisations as well as unpaid time from Indigenous community members. Many scientists aspire to return to the communities they worked with to give back the knowledge they developed through their research, however this is not often factored into research budgets. The initial findings also point out that research projects that are not developed with Traditional Owners have a lower likelihood of support and longevity. Through our involvement in this project, we hope to contribute to developing a protocol around research that respects our traditional knowledge and is aligned with our cultural values.