Mayala Traditional Owners launch plan to protect West Kimberley coast

A 10-year plan to protect hundreds of islands, seas and reefs along the West Kimberley coast has been launched by Mayala Traditional Owners.

Launched last Thursday at Liyan-ngan Nyirrwa, Nyamba Nuru Yawuru in Broome, key features of the new Mayala Country Plan include the development of a Mayala Indigenous Ranger team and the establishment of a Mayala Indigenous Protected Area (IPA).

The Plan stretches across 3,833 square kilometres of land and sea including over 300 islands in the Kimberley’s Buccaneer Archipelago and King Sound.

The area has no recorded feral animal attacks, few weeds and limited wildfire, making it a unique and important home for native mammals and wildlife, particularly species threatened on the Kimberley mainland such as the Nabarlek, Northern Quoll and Golden-back Tree-rat.

The Federal Court formally recognised Mayala Traditional Owners’ Native Title in October last year, more than 20 years after their claim was first lodged, allowing Traditional Owners to apply for funding to establish an IPA.

Kimberley Land Council Deputy CEO Tyronne Garstone said IPAs have a proven track record in promoting cultural, economic and environmental growth within Indigenous communities.

“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,” Mr Garstone 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.”

Mr Garstone also said creating an IPA would give power back to the Mayala people.

“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,” he said.

“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 [Prescribed Bodies Corporate] in our region.”

Mayala Traditional Owner Janine Mandijalu said what makes the new Plan special is the connection it has to Mayala land.

“Mayala people’s interconnectedness with our islands and saltwater country is what makes this Country Plan unique,” Ms Mandijalu said.

The Plan was created after extensive research to ensure it satisfied both the wishes of the Mayala old people and the needs of future generations of the land.

Mayala Traditional Owner Janella Isaac said traditional values will keep the land safe for generations to come.

“Our cultural values are the key to keeping our traditional country safe and well for all to enjoy,” Ms Isaac said.

Mayala Traditional Owners now await a decision from the Government regarding their application to fund an IPA.

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