Native fauna in Australia’s arid zone has declined significantly since European settlement; however, Martu country in the Western Desert of Western Australia retains a diversity of iconic and threatened species that were once more widespread. An innovative partnership between The Nature Conservancy, BHP Billiton and the Martu people (represented by Kanyirninpa Jukurrpa – KJ) is achieving positive social, cultural, economic and environmental outcomes, which builds on funding from the Australian Government for land management on Martu country.
The partners support Martu people in fulfilling their desire to conserve the cultural and natural values of their 13.7 million ha native title determination area. Through KJ as the local delivery partner, Martu people are returning to work on country to clean and protect waterholes; improve fire management; control feral herbivores and predators; manage cultural heritage; and actively manage priority threatened species (such as the Greater Bilby and the Black-flanked Rock-wallaby).
The project provides significant employment opportunities for Martu men and women in ranger teams working throughout their country. It is also generating measurable social, cultural and economic benefits for Martu people and environmental benefits for part of the most intact arid ecosystem anywhere on Earth.