INTRODUCING RANGER PARKS

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A WIN FOR EVERYONE

When the Western Australian Government purchased especially selected Outback stations for conservation 20 years ago, it had a positive and visionary goal – to help diversify regional economies and protect the state’s unique Outback landscapes and wildlife.

Since then, these extraordinary areas of the Outback have been forgotten and have become neglected.

Over five million hectares across 66 remarkable properties have gone under-managed, and their contribution to local prosperity has gone unrealised. Neighbours have suffered as weeds, feral animals and wildfires affect productivity. Conservationists and Traditional Owners are alarmed by the effects that a lack of management is having on biodiversity and cultural values. And all Western Australians are missing out on new camping and tourism opportunities in some of our most special Western Australian landscapes.

THESE PROBLEMS CAN BE SOLVED BY A POSITIVE AND INNOVATIVE APPROACH THAT WILL BRING SUBSTANTIAL BENEFITS FOR GOVERNMENT, TRADITIONAL OWNERS, NEIGHBOURS, LOCAL COMMUNITIES AND ALL WESTERN AUSTRALIANS.

Where are the parks?

A WIN FOR EVERYONE

SIX STEPS TO CREATING RANGER PARKS

STEP 1 - INDIGENOUS RANGERS

Government contracts qualified and preferably locally-based nongovernment organisations that have a track record in delivering good land management and training. Their 10 year mission is to work with Traditional Owners to develop skilled and well-managed Indigenous ranger teams drawn from remote and regional communities, and to establish park infrastructure. This new, low-cost, public-private partnership approach to land management would be carefully introduced over time. It would start with a demonstration of 1 million hectares on properties where capacity and requests for ranger jobs are strongest, and would then extend to the remainder of the Ranger Parks network. After 10 years, or sooner if standards are met, ranger groups would assume full management responsibility. Each group is required to be accountable within state-wide development and conservation strategies set by government, in consultation with stakeholders in regional and metropolitan areas. Junior ranger programs to be established in remote and regional schools.

Step 2 – New Parks

Finish the job started 20 years ago. Diversify regional land use and secure the opportunity that these former pastoral lease properties offer by declaring them joint-vested national parks or conservation parks. The Ranger Parks would be vested in Traditional Owner groups and government, and proceed only with Traditional Owner consent after the signing of Indigenous Land Use Agreements. All Ranger Parks would be gazetted within two terms of government with at least half listed as fullyprotected A-class parks.

Step 3 – Regional and Remote Development

Identify and develop sustainable tourism, cultural and other regional development opportunities associated with the new Ranger Parks. Assign ‘preferred supplier status’ to nearby businesses, giving them an edge to win contracts to establish and service the Ranger Parks. Ensure infrastructure that is shared with neighbours receives priority attention.

Step 4 - Working Together, Managing Country

Ensure that Ranger Parks are consistent with local and regional plans and aspirations. The Ranger Parks should complement, not compete with, existing projects, proposals and businesses. In genuine collaboration with surrounding neighbours, control weeds, feral animals and fire. Restore degraded areas, maintain infrastructure and protect natural and cultural values. Work with community groups to protect and restore our shared heritage.

Step 5 - Parks for People

Create opportunities for all Western Australians to enjoy these remarkable natural places by providing access, camping facilities and other infrastructure in ways that sustain the local plants and animals. Cater for different visitor demands, from well-serviced camp grounds through to wilderness experiences

Step 6 – Learning and Improving

Ensure high standards in delivering social, economic and conservation outcomes by establishing a comprehensive and transparent evaluation and auditing program. Reliable, independently gathered information will be needed to fine tune this innovative approach to park management over the first 10 years.

Benefits for Western Australians

Safeguarding remarkable natural places

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Preserving our cultural heritage

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More parks for people

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Meaningful new jobs, increased skills

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Improved health and wellbeing

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Offering hope, generating pride

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Saving taxpayer dollars

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Revitalised communities

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Neighbour benefits

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More prosperous regions

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New business opportunities

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Complementing existing initiatives

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“THE BENEFITS THAT ACCRUE TO GOVERNMENT ARE VAST AND VARIED. THEY INCLUDE RANGERS BEING SKILLED AND TRAINED, REDUCTION IN INCOME SUPPORT, INCREASE IN INCOME TAX, IMPROVED ENGAGEMENT WITH INDIGENOUS COMMUNITIES AND LOW COST LAND MANAGEMENT.”

Social Ventures Australia Consulting, March 2016

INDIGENOUS RANGERS – A PROVEN SUCCESS STORY

The cornerstone of Ranger Parks are Indigenous rangers, recruited from local communities, whose traditional cultural practices have cared for our land for over 50,000 years.

Indigenous rangers are uniquely suited for management of the Ranger Parks. Many have a deep, cultural commitment to their country and can combine traditional knowledge with modern science to bring about conservation on a large scale. It’s a new way forward to manage and protect the Outback places that make Western Australia so special.

Existing Indigenous ranger programs in areas of the Kimberley and other parts of Australia are a proven success. They offer real jobs and opportunities for sustainable economic independence in remote areas where jobs are often hardest to find. Recent reports show that ranger programs are producing unmatched results for Aboriginal people.

Rangers undertake difficult but vital work caring for nature and tackling the pressing challenges of damaging wildfires, uncontrolled feral animals and noxious weeds. Not only are they successfully protecting and managing our shared natural heritage but they are also transforming remote communities and offering hope to younger Aboriginal people.

SO WHAT DO INDIGENOUS RANGERS DO?

Save Species

Fight Ferals

Manage Fire

Eliminate Weeds

Care for Culture

PROVIDE AN INDIGENOUS CULTURAL PERSPECTIVE TO PARK VISITORS

Rangers undertake difficult but vital work tackling pressing challenges that impact on regional productivity and on our unique Outback landscapes - challenges such as damaging wildfires, feral animals and noxious weeds.

In addition to these services, almost half the existing Indigenous ranger groups in Australia have progressed to delivering services locally on a commercial basis. This has supplemented and diversified the income that ranger jobs deliver, and assisted government and businesses to meet the supply-side challenges of Indigenous-related procurement targets.

The end result is sustainable economic independence driving improved levels of health and education,
as well as reduced rates of imprisonment and welfare dependence.

Additionally and importantly, rangers often become respected role models in their community, offering hope and inspiration for younger people. Junior ranger programs encourage teenagers and children to spend time in the bush, connecting with older generations who are eager to pass on knowledge and culture and the benefits these bring.

The Create Ranger Parks proposal brings together two proven success stories – Indigenous rangers and protected parks – to produce a win for everyone.

 

RANGER GROUPS ARE CLOSING THE GAP BY:

Providing community mentors, educational opportunities and leadership.
Providing meaningful work, training and career paths.
Empowering individuals with confidence and better mental health.
Encouraging healthy lifestyles through physical activity.
Reducing incarceration and incidences of alcohol and substance abuse.


THERE’S LESS SOCIAL UNREST AND SUBSTANCE ABUSE, KIDS ARE MORE MOTIVATED AT SCHOOL BECAUSE THEY SEE MEANINGFUL ROLE MODELS, AND IT PROVIDES AN OPPORTUNITY FOR THE WHOLE COMMUNIT Y TO RECONNECT WITH THEIR CULTURAL HERITAGE AND PRIORITIES.

Ranger Parks in Focus

Yandani Gatharagudu
Welcome song in Malgana language

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