Healthy Country Program
Indigenous Protected Area
Over one third of Wilinggin’s Native Title Area is Exclusive Possession Native Title which Traditional Owners have declared as an Indigenous Protected Area forming part of Australia’s national reserve system. Within this area, Ngarinyin people are looking after the unique natural and cultural values of their country. Ngarinyin people have developed a long-term Healthy Country Plan that sets out the cultural and environmental targets which Wilinggin people want to achieve and how they will manage threats to the health of these targets. This plan has been endorsed by the Australian Government as consistent with the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) protected area management system.
The rise of indigenous land and sea management across northern Australia, particularly through the long-term employment of rangers via the federally-funded Working on Country Indigenous Ranger Program, has started to is providing career options for Ngarinyin men and women. A young person growing up on Country can now aspire to live on their country and work as a ranger, looking after country and keeping culture strong.
Currently there is two ranger groups, the Wunggurr Rangers and the Nyaliga Rangers, formed in 2020, working on Wilinggin country. The rangers are based in the heart of Wilinggin country, on Gibb River Station along the renowned Gibb River Road and on Karunjie Station in the east of Wilinggin Country.. These rangers are responsible to and supported by Wilinggin Aboriginal Corporation and their Healthy Country Advisory Committee, which is made up of Traditional Owners representing the communities on Wilinggin country. The Wunggurr rangers receive administrative and other support from through the ranger program managed by the Kimberley Land Council and the Kimberley Ranger Network. Both ranger groups have many other partners who assist with the work programs.
The rangers employ Ngarinyin men and women to look after country, and equip them with skills and training in Natural and Cultural Resource Management and whose job it is to help Traditional Owners manage their estates. This is achieved with the back-up of over many casual rangers, employed to help in land management activities. The rangers are using a combination of traditional cultural and environmental knowledge, western science and modern technologies to support Traditional Owners to protect threatened species and their habitats, manage fire, weeds and feral animals and look after cultural sites.
Many communities and families would like to set up ranger bases on their own country. Plans to expand the ranger program to other Wilinggin areas and communities and increase employment are underway.