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Nari Nari people lead the way in cultural and environmental conservation of Murrumbidgee floodplains

20 Mar 2020

The handing back of an 88,000-hectare property in southern New South Wales to its Traditional Custodians will ensure the protection of ecologically vital wetlands and significant Aboriginal heritage sites.

Gayini (Nimmie-Caira) is an environmentally and culturally significant property on the Murrumbidgee floodplains, referred to as the ‘Kakadu of the south’, which is a breeding ground for wildlife. Gayini is an area critical to the health of the floodplains.
Gayini is an amalgamation of 19 parcels of land that were purchased as part of an agreement between the Federal and NSW Governments in 2013 for $180 million under the Murray-Darling Basin Plan water buyback scheme.

Gayini has been co-managed by the Nari Nari Tribal Council since May 2018 as part of a consortium including The Nature Conservancy, the Murray Darling Wetlands Working Group and the Centre for Ecosystem Science at the University of NSW.
The consortium commenced a wetlands restoration program on Gayini which is considered one of the most ambitious environmental projects under the Basin Plan

Nari Nari Tribal Council (NNTC) Chairman, Ian Woods, said the official handing back of the property to Traditional Custodians on March 20 will enable the Nari Nari people to reconnect with their country.

“This is a significant event for the Nari Nari people, who have been using traditional knowledge to sustain our country for thousands of years,” he said.

“Now with the ownership being officially handed back, we can continue to protect the environment, preserve the Aboriginal heritage of the land and enable the intergenerational transfer of knowledge of caring for country.

“We have identified and recorded around 2,000 cultural sites on the property including burial sites, middens and camp sites, which will now be under our protection.

“Having the property back in Nari Nari hands will also allow us to pursue sustainable sources of income such as carbon farming, grazing in non-sensitive areas and cultural eco-tourism.”

The purchase and handing back of Gayini was facilitated by The Nature Conservancy (TNC) and made possible through co-funding from the Indigenous Land and Sea Corporation (ILSC) and the Wyss Campaign for Nature.

ILSC Director, Roy Ah-See, said the partnership between government, Aboriginal people and environmentalists would benefit both the Nari Nari people and the wider region.

“The ILSC has successfully partnered with The Nature Conservancy to support the Nari Nari Tribal Council in the purchase and continued improvement of the land and water resources of Gayini,” Mr Ah-See said.

“Importantly, Nari Nari people have improved access to country and will be able to protect significant cultural and environmentally sensitive sites in the Murrumbidgee Valley region as a result of this collaboration.”

Marking the official hand back of ownership to the Nari Nari Tribal Council, TNC Australia Director, Rich Gilmore said: “It’s a great honour to be able to take the next planned step for the management of Gayini by handing back ownership of the property to its original custodians on behalf of all the members of our consortium.”

For more media information, please contact:

Claire Muntinga | Communications Coordinator | Indigenous Land and Sea Corporation (ILSC)
M: 0429 373 348 | EClaire.Muntinga@ilsc.gov.au

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