An Anangu traditional owner says the future of the land around Uluru is brighter now that it has been declared protected.
Andrea Booth

2 Oct 2015 - 1:30 PM  UPDATED 3 Oct 2015 - 10:47 AM

Anangu traditional owner and Kaltukatjara ranger Ruby James said biodiversity and culture in 5 million hectares of land surrounding Uluru could burgeon after it was declared an Indigenous Protected Area (IPA) on Thursday.

Ms James said that traditional owners could continue teaching the young generations how to sustain the land in Central Australia with environmental knowledge that had been passed down for thousands of years.

Katiti Petermann Indigenous Protected Area ceremony

"By taking them out on country they see and learn about places. It will allow them to protect their country themselves in time," she told media about the IPA known as Katiti Petermann. "This is their schooling, this is the education we need our children to have and this is the way we do it."

Traditional owners signed a document with the Australian Government on Thursday that stipulated the land surrounding the Uluru Kata Tjuta National Park become an IPA.

An IPA is an Indigenous-owned region where traditional owners enter an agreement with the government to further improve its biodiversity and strengthen culture. 

It is the fourth-largest IPA in the country, according to the Central Land Council, an Aboriginal-owned body that advocates Aboriginal rights.

Katiti Petermann Indigenous Protected Area

There are 51 Indigenous protected areas in the country, the Australian Government says, with the largest being Southern Tanami in the Northern Territory (10.16 million hectares) and the smallest, Pulu Islet in the Torres Strait at 15 hectares.

Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion said the government had supported the consultation and development of a management plan for the Katiti Petermann IPA.

"The extensive dunefields, mountain ranges, spinifex country, rivers and salt lakes will be managed by Indigenous rangers and traditional owners," Mr Scullion told media. "This will complement management of the adjacent Uluru Kata Tjuta National Park and lead to local job opportunities and economic development."

Women in ceremony at the declration of the Katiti Petermann Indigenous Protected Area

Mr Scullion's office said the government would support the implementation of this and three other IPAs in Central Australia with $7 million funding distributed over five years to the Central Land Council.

Indigenous protected areas form the National Reserve System that the Department of Environment says it established to preserve the country’s natural life.