Sa park names large
Sa park names large

Understanding co-management of South Australia's National Parks

05 Jul. 2024 3 min read

Heard of the term co-management in relation to park management, but don’t know what it means exactly – here’s everything you need to know.

Co-management is all about collaboration and respect. It’s a partnership between the South Australian Government and Aboriginal groups to help manage our national parks that combines traditional knowledge with contemporary park management.

It’s an approach to land management that demonstrates a deep respect for Aboriginal heritage and a commitment to preserving the natural environment.

The South Australian co-management model brings together the traditional knowledge of Indigenous communities with contemporary conservation practices, ensuring the sustainable management of our precious landscapes.

As we come together to celebrate NAIDOC Week, here’s a bit of history on SA’s co-management evolution.

How did it come about?

The history of co-management in South Australia can be traced back to the early 2000s. ‘

The 2004 co-management agreement for the Vulkathunha-Gammon Ranges National Park, marked the first such arrangement in the state. This agreement was a collaborative effort between the Adnyamathanha people and the South Australian Government, aimed at recognising and integrating Indigenous knowledge and cultural practices into park management.

Following this landmark agreement, several other parks in South Australia have adopted co-management frameworks.

For instance, the Ikara-Flinders Ranges National Park entered into a co-management agreement in 2013. This partnership not only honours the deep spiritual and cultural connections of the Adnyamathanha people to the land but also leverages their traditional ecological knowledge for better park management and conservation outcomes.

Then there’s the Witjira National Park, co-managed with the Yankunytjatjara. This park is home to the Dalhousie Springs, a site of immense cultural and ecological significance. The co-management framework ensures that the Yankunytjatjara people's traditional practices and conservation strategies are upheld, promoting both cultural preservation and environmental sustainability.

What are the benefits?

The benefits of co-management extend beyond conservation. They foster mutual respect and understanding, provide economic opportunities for Aboriginal communities through tourism and employment, and enhance the overall visitor experience by offering richer cultural insights.

The collaboration between Indigenous communities and government ensures that management practices are inclusive, culturally sensitive, and environmentally sound.

Today, South Australia's co-managed parks are celebrated as models of inclusive and sustainable management. They show just how traditional knowledge and contemporary conservation practices can coexist, ensuring our natural treasures are preserved for future generations while honouring the cultural heritage of the land's original custodians.

It’s an innovative approach that not only enhances biodiversity conservation but also strengthens cultural ties and promotes a deeper appreciation of Australia's rich Indigenous heritage.

As the journey of co-management continues, it serves as a powerful reminder of the importance of collaboration and respect in the stewardship of our natural and cultural resources.

Would you like to learn more?

Watch our video ‘strong people, strong Country’ about co-managing parks in South Australia or check out these 5 national parks rich in Aboriginal cultural heritage.


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