Managing parks and reserves

The Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources (DEWNR) is responsible for establishing and managing parks and reserves in South Australia.

This protected area system includes all reserves proclaimed under the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1972 (the NPW Act), the Wilderness Protection Act 1992 (the WP Act) and conservation reserves dedicated to the Minister under the Crown Land Management Act 2009.

There are several types of public lands in the SA Arid Lands region:

  • National parks are areas considered to be of national significance due to wildlife, natural features of the land, or areas of Aboriginal or European significance.
  • Conservation parks are areas protected for the purpose of conserving wildlife or the natural or historic features of the land.
  • Regional reserves are conservation areas which allow for a variety of considered land uses including pastoralism, mining and tourism.

Co-management with traditional owners

The co-management model for parks management in South Australia was introduced in 2004 when the NPW Act was amended to enable DEWNR to share responsibility for the management of national and conservation parks with relevant Aboriginal groups, through the creation of either a co-management board or a co-management advisory committee.

Co-management of parks plays an important role in advancing the reconciliation process and resolving issues relating to traditional land ownership. The active involvement of Aboriginal people in the control and management of their traditional lands contributes to improved cultural site protection, maintenance of traditional practices that may have otherwise been excluded and improved management of country through the combination of traditional knowledge and contemporary science.

The co-management framework is a three tiered scheme where the park or reserve is either owned:

  • by the Aboriginal group and managed by a board
  • by the Crown and managed by a board
  • by the Crown with an advisory structure in place.

Co-management boards

There are currently five co-management boards in the SA Arid Lands region:

  • Ikara-Flinders Ranges National Park Co-management Board, established 2011 – native title group Adnyamathanha Traditional Lands Association
  • Witjira National Park Co-management Board, established 2007 – native title group Irrwanyere Aboriginal Corporation
  • Vulkathunha-Gammon Ranges National Park Co-management Board, established 2005 – native title group Adnyamathanha Traditional Lands Association
  • Kanku-Breakaways Conservation Park Co-management Board, established 2013 – native title group Antakirinja Matu-Yankuntjatjara Aboriginal Corporation
  • Lake Gairdner National Park Co-management Board, established 2011 – native title group Gawler Ranges Aboriginal Corporation

There are also three co-management advisory committees in the region: