The cultural and conservation values of Martu country are intertwined and co-dependent. The landscape, water sources, habitats, fauna and flora of this country together comprise a cultural landscape in which Martu identity, beliefs, creation stories, sacred sites, cultural practices and traditional livelihoods are embedded. The Martu lands have significant conservation values globally, nationally and locally. They are part of the most intact arid ecosystem anywhere in the world and provide one of the last wild havens for some of Australia’s iconic but highly threatened desert species, including the Mankarr (Greater Bilby), the Wiminyji (Northern Quoll) and the Mulyamiji (Great Desert Skink).
The ecological health of this vast arid zone and the survival of its unique assemblage of animals and plants are dependent on continuation of Martu land management practices, especially traditional burning. It is this co-dependence of nature and culture on Martu lands that is integral to developing an appropriate long-term management framework.
The Martu native title determination over unallocated Crown land has not been greatly affected by other land uses, such as mining or pastoral activities. This isolation coupled with ongoing land management by the Martu people, especially the maintenance of traditional hunting and fire-burning practices, has ensured a habitat quality which is exceptionally high compared with other Australian arid lands. Consequently, the fauna and flora of the Martu lands are largely intact, and include 19 fauna and 16 plant species of international, national or state significance.