CSIRO has partnered the Dhimurru Aboriginal Corporation to establish a biodiversity monitoring program in relation to fire within the Dhimurru Indigenous Protected Area in north-east Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory.

The challenge

Managing the Dhimurru Indigenous Protected Area

The wise use and management of terrestrial resources provides opportunities for Indigenous people in northern Australia to live on country, practice customary activities and strengthen their culture.

The Dhimurru Indigenous Protected Area (IPA) was declared in November 2000 and covers over 92 000 hectares of coastline and hinterland country on the western edge of the Gulf of Carpentaria in the Northern Territory. The IPA forms part of the wider traditional lands of the Yolngu people, and the Dhimurru Aboriginal Corporation aims to protect its biodiversity for future generations.

Our response

Monitoring biodiversity responses to fire

Close up of tropical savanna plant on fire

Plants, reptiles, birds, ants and mammals are being surveyed as part of the Dhimurru fire and biodiversity project

CSIRO has partnered Dhimurru to establish a biodiversity monitoring programme in relation to fire within the Dhimurru Indigenous Protected Area (IPA). The project is funded by the Australian Government Department of Environment's Biodiversity Fund.

Twenty-six long-term biodiversity monitoring sites within different vegetation types have been established, with a particular focus on understanding biodiversity patterns and trends in relation to fire. Woody plants, reptiles, birds, ants and mammals are being surveyed at the sites using standard biodiversity survey protocols for the Northern Territory.

The project is also identifying Yolngu cultural burning priorities and promoting increased community participation in Dhimurru fire management for biodiversity conservation benefits.

The results

A vision for the future

Initial biodiversity surveys were completed in December 2012, recording 122 vertebrate species, comprising 12 mammals, 69 birds, 32 reptiles and 9 amphibians. The surveys also recorded 65 ant species, four of which appear to be endemic to northeast Arnhem Land.

A series of workshops, co-ordinated by Dhimurru Aboriginal Corporation, have been held with Yolngu Traditional Landowners to develop a vision for fire and biodiversity management within the IPA. The biodiversity plots will be re-surveyed in 2016 in order to determine changes in species abundance related to patterns of fire over the study period.

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