What is the 10 Deserts Project?
- The 10 Deserts Project is an Indigenous-led partnership for healthy country and people.
- The project will be delivered over the next five years across Australia’s desert country, led by Desert Support Services (DSS) and enabled by the BHP Foundation.
- It aims to build environmental resilience by supporting traditional owners to look after and manage their country. The on-ground activities will be complemented by a strong Indigenous organisation to represent Indigenous land managers’ views in the years to come.
- The project aims to enable Indigenous peoples to realise significant social, cultural and economic outcomes from their desert lands.
Who is funding the 10 Deserts Project?
- The project is funded by the BHP Foundation through its Environmental Resilience Global Signature Program. The Foundation will provide AU$20.9 million over five years to December 2022.
- The Foundation is working to address some of the most critical global sustainable development challenges facing our generation. It’s focused on enhancing the contribution the global resources sector can make to achieving many of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
- The BHP Foundation is a US-based charitable organisation funded solely by BHP.
What is the BHP Foundation’s Environmental Resilience Global Signature Program?
- The BHP Foundation’s Environmental Resilience Global Signature Program is testing new solutions for complex environmental issues. The Foundation partners with conservation leaders to work with the people who live in some of the world’s most precious and threatened natural ecosystems.
- Through the program, the Foundation invests in a portfolio of large-scale projects which empower people to manage natural environments and achieve environmental and socio-economic sustainability. These projects aim to improve how the environment is valued, enhance conservation planning and share learnings with others.
- The program has a particular focus on engaging with people who live in landscapes of international significance to build their capacity and support their livelihoods. Enhancing the environmental, cultural and socio-economic resilience of Indigenous peoples’ lands is a key focus of the program.
- The 10 Deserts Project is the first Australian project funded under the Foundation’s Environmental Resilience Global Signature Program.
Why is the Foundation funding this project?
- This project is a unique opportunity to demonstrate collective action to build environmental resilience at an unprecedented scale worldwide. It will be led by DSS working with some of Australia’s most successful Indigenous organisations and supported by international and regional conservation partners.
- The 10 deserts area is of immense cultural value to traditional owners who have occupied these lands for more than 50,000 years.
- The landscapes of the ten deserts are also rich in unique plant and animal life, and are home to many of Australia’s threatened animals.
- Despite being relatively intact, these unique desert ecosystems and the values they contain are under increasing threat due to vast destructive wildfires, invasive noxious weeds and feral animals. The impacts of these threats will be worsened by climate change.
- The 10 Deserts Project was considered following a rigorous evaluation process.
What are the 10 deserts?
The ten deserts cover an area of approximately 2.7 million square kilometres (more than one-third of Australia) across five state and territory jurisdictions.
- Great Victoria Desert
- Great Sandy Desert
- Tanami Desert
- Simpson Desert
- Gibson Desert
- Little Sandy Desert
- Strzelecki Desert
- Sturt Stony Desert
- Tirari Desert
- Pedirka Desert
Who will deliver the 10 Deserts Project?
The project is being led by DSS which is a part of the Central Desert Group based in Perth, Western Australia. DSS will work with some of Australia’s most successful Indigenous organisations, supported by international and regional conservation partners.
To deliver the project outcomes over the life of the project, DSS has partnered with:
- Alinytjara Wiluṟara NRM Board (AWNRM)
- Central Land Council (CLC)
- Indigenous Desert Alliance (IDA)
- Kanyirninpa Jukurrpa (KJ)
- Kimberley Land Council (KLC)
- Nyangumarta Warrarn Aboriginal Corporation (NW)
- Arid Lands Environment Centre (ALEC)
- The Nature Conservancy (TNC)
- The Pew Charitable Trusts (Pew)
Project partners will work with DSS over the life of the project. They represent or work with a wide range of Indigenous rangers and communities who actively manage their traditional lands across the ten deserts.
Partners will assist with engaging other stakeholders, provide technical support if required and may assist with engaging with Indigenous people in other countries who are operating, or wanting to operate, similar projects and activities.
What are the project’s deliverables?
Over its five-year duration, the 10 Deserts Project aims to:
- strengthen the governance and capacity of Indigenous groups to look after their country
- develop a representative Indigenous organisation for the deserts to support Indigenous land management into the future
- coordinate the landscape level management of key threats such as altered fire regimes and invasive species
- increase economic diversification through accessing carbon markets and leveraging increased tourism in the region
- demonstrate a new partnership model for landscape-scale land management
- secure significant on-going funding for project activities and Indigenous land management organisations into the future
- support new Indigenous Protected Areas (IPAs).
Will the project build on existing government programs?
- The project will complement and enhance highly successful government funding initiatives supporting Indigenous rangers and IPAs and seek to develop long-term sustainable financing mechanisms to bring people back to the landscape.
Why aren’t all Indigenous land management organisations in the desert partners?
- While there are too many groups to work with directly in the project, other Indigenous organisations will be involved and supported by the project for discrete activities at both a local and regional level.
- The involvement of international partners will also enable the lessons learnt to be shared with the broader global community.
What about Queensland and New South Wales desert country, eastern South Australia and Lake Eyre?
- The first focus for the project is mainly on desert areas within the Northern Territory, Western Australia and the western side of South Australia.
- DSS has had some engagement with stakeholders in Queensland and eastern South Australia with a view to encouraging their participation in regional and network activities.
Is this project aimed at locking up land?
- Successful project outcomes are not dependent on land tenure or ownership. Many Indigenous rangers work on country that is not set aside for conservation or ‘protected’.
- Where Traditional Owners in the ten deserts have decided to declare an IPA, the project will work with them to obtain support and share learnings with other IPAs in the desert region.
- A major focus of the project will be learning how to collaborate across protected areas and other Indigenous managed lands to ensure healthy country and people.