Joint management involves a partnership in which the Northern Territory Government, represented by the Parks and Wildlife Commission works together with Aboriginal Traditional Owners to manage parks.
Responsibility and decision-making is shared in so that:
- the natural and cultural heritage of parks is conserved
- visitor enjoyment and other public benefits are provided
- Traditional Owners' benefit and their interests are taken into account.
Joint management is not new to the Territory. National Park has been jointly managed since 1981, and Nitmiluk National Park since 1989.
In 2003, the Parks and Reserves (Framework for the Future) Act was passed so that outstanding land and native title claims affecting twenty-seven parks and reserves could be settled. The total number of jointly managed parks and reserves in the Northern Territory in the foreseeable future will be 34. This is about one third of the parks managed or jointly managed by the Northern Territory Government.
In 2005 the Territory Parks and Wildlife Conservation Act was amended, setting out the principles and objectives for joint management for the 27 'framework' parks.
The benefits expected to come out of joint management include:
- Improved land management, using indigenous traditional knowledge together with scientific approaches.
- Richer visitor experiences from increased opportunities for interpretation of indigenous culture.
- Social development and economic opportunities for Traditional Owners, their families and communities.
- Recognition of Traditional Owners rights and interests and respect for Aboriginal people's aspirations and desire to express traditional connections to country.
- Some of the programs that have been undertaken as part of the joint management partnership include weed management programs, cross cultural training and development programs, fire management programs, and infrastructure maintenance programs across parks throughout the Northern Territory.