Kakadu is Aboriginal land. Our people have kept it healthy for thousands of years. Today, we work hand-in-hand with Parks Australia to manage Kakadu, using a mix of traditional ways and modern science.
Since the late 1970s Kakadu's traditional owners have leased their land to the Director of National Parks to be jointly managed as a national park. Joint management is about Bininj/Mungguy and Parks Australia working together, solving problems, sharing decision making and exchanging knowledge, skills and information.
We aboriginal people have obligations to care for our country, to look after djang, to communicate with our ancestors when on country and to teach all of this to the next generations.
- Combined statement from the Aboriginal members of the Kakadu National Park Board of Management.
The park is proclaimed under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (the EPBC Act) and is managed through a joint management arrangement between the Aboriginal traditional owners and the Director of National Parks. The Director manages Commonwealth national parks through Parks Australia, which is a part of the Department of the Environment and Energy.
Approximately 50 per cent of the land in the park is Aboriginal land under the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act 1976, and most of the remaining area of land is under claim by Aboriginal people. Title to Aboriginal land in the park is held by Aboriginal land trusts. The land trusts have leased their land to the Director of National Parks for the purpose of a national park for the enjoyment and benefit of all Australians. Traditional owners have also expected that having their land managed as a national park would assist them in looking after their land in the face of growing and competing pressures. They saw a national park as establishing a way to manage the land that could protect their interests and be sympathetic to their aspirations. Parks Australia and the Aboriginal traditional owners of Kakadu are committed to the principle of joint management of the park. Arrangements to help this happen are highlighted throughout the Kakadu National Park Management Plan (2016-2026).
The EPBC Act requires boards of management to be established for parks on Aboriginal land. The Kakadu Board of Management, which has an Aboriginal majority (16 out of 21 members), representing the Aboriginal traditional owners of land in the park, was established in 1989. The Board determines policy for managing the park and is responsible, along with the director, for preparing plans of management for the park. The management plan is the main policy document for the park and strives to balance strategic or long-term goals and tactical or day to day goals.
The committee provides advice on tourism issues (both commercial and private) in Kakadu National Park. Matters are brought to the committee either by the Kakadu Board of Management or by members on behalf of the groups they represent.
The primary purpose of this committee is to provide advice to the Kakadu Board of Management on research and management issues and priorities for the park. The members of the committee are researchers with expertise in natural or cultural resource management or tourism, Indigenous economic interests or other areas related to park management.
The current management plan for Kakadu National Park, the sixth plan of management for the park (2016-2026) has now been released.