The land management sector is well established in the region with Aboriginal ranger groups responsible for the maintenance of the Indigenous Protected Areas. Although the sector is generally dependent on government funding and grants, in recent times, there has been an increase in fee-for-service commercial activity.
Rangers carry out a range of core land management work that includes: marine debris clean ups, weed and fire management, pest animal control and quarantine, cultural site management, sea country patrols and surveillance operations, Indigenous knowledge transfer, community education and biodiversity surveys. Ranger groups are also increasingly involved in community development programs.
East Arnhem’s ranger groups and traditional owners hold a wealth of knowledge in the conservation of country and management of biosecurity which may lead to innovative collaboration with significant investment potential.
An example of successful land management practices leading to positive economic outcomes and opportunities is demonstrated by ranger groups participating in the carbon farming industry. Utilising ‘Savanna Burning Methodology’ practices, nine Aboriginal ranger groups consisting of traditional owners and their families operate a total of five fire projects across Arnhem Land, managing an area of 80,000 square kilometres. Australia’s vast and ecologically intact northern tropical savannas are extremely flammable, and fire is arguably the most important tool that Aboriginal people have for looking after country.
A 2018/19 summary of outcomes for these groups (as a collective) include:
- 491,942 total tonnes of greenhouse gas abated
- 487,712 Australian Carbon Credit Units secured
- 500 traditional owners involved
- 250 rangers employed
- $5,440,690 revenue generated (down from $10,683,612 generated in 2017/18).