Werai Indigenous Protected Area

An Indigenous Protected Area (IPA) is an area of land or sea cared for by Traditional Owners. Traditional Owners enter into a voluntary agreement with the Commonwealth to protect biodiversity – the animals, plants and other species that call the IPA home – and to conserve the area’s cultural resource.

In 2009 Yarkuwa began negotiations with NSW State Forests to consider an IPA over  a portion of the Werai State Forest. In 2010 The NSW Natural Resource Commission reported on a review of forestry operation in Red Gum Forests and recommended a change in landuse.  A recommendation had been made to the NRC that the Werai group of Forests should be returned to local Traditional Owners. The 2010 the NSW National Park Estate (Riverina Red Gum reservations) Act included a provision for this to occur in Part 2 Section 10 Vesting in the NPW Minister, of former State forests on 1 July 2010 for transfer to Aboriginal ownership (2) The purposes for which the lands described in Schedule 6 may be dealt with under Part 11 of the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974 include the vesting of any of the land in an Aboriginal landholding body.

The Werai lands are currently managed by the National parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) under Part 11 of the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974.

​In November 2010, following an Aboriginal Nation meeting of traditional owners connected to the Werai lands, NPWS supported the establishment of an external Aboriginal negotiating team (WANT) to assist in determining how the lands may be transferred to an Aboriginal landholding body.  In 2016 the Werai Land and Water Aboriginal Corporation was registered with the Corporations (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander) Act 2006.  In 2017 the NSW Government entered into a negotiation protocol incorporating an Indigenous Landuse Agreement.

Our Current Work
  • Draft Plan of management completed
  • Draft Water management Plan completed
  • Draft annual workplan completed
  • On ground work program continues including active protection of traditional burial grounds
Project lead
Tracy Hamilton