Tiwi Land Council



Natural Resource Management

Environmental Awards:

Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service 2003 Regional Quarantine Award
NT Coastcare Award 2003
NT Bushcare Award 2005
NT Indigenous Landcare Award 2007
The National Landcare Award 2008-2010.

There has been an unbroken history of occupation and ownership of the Tiwi Islands by Tiwi people for thousands of years. Traditionally, the natural resources of the region were used for food, shelter, medicine, weapons, tools and spiritual purposes.1

From the late 1800’s the natural resources were seen as a source of wealth by outside developers, culminating in the 1960’s and 1970’s with Melville Island being selected as the focus for a major plantation forest industry in the Northern Territory.

In recent years Tiwi leaders identified the urgency of developing an independent economy as a viable means of improving social outcomes, especially for youth. The greatest assets of the Tiwi Islands are their natural resources and the people, and natural resource utilisation has been identified as a key area for economic development. It also has high potential for providing long-term training and employment opportunities that are attractive to Tiwi residents.

The Tiwi Islands have also been recognised for their high contemporary conservation values. The challenge for natural resource management is to consider the interests of non-residents while acknowledging that it is those who rely on the region for their daily living that will be most affected by natural resource management decisions both now and into the future.

In response to the different interests within the region, the Tiwi Land Council has developed a Natural Resource Management Strategy that provides a vehicle for the integration of development, environment protection and conservation planning.

Based on the underlying tenet that it’s purpose is to support the lives of the permanent residents of the Tiwi Islands, it provides the template for long term planning and decision making in natural resource management.

Running parallel to the Natural Resource Management Strategy is the ongoing development and maintenance of a Tiwi Geographic system. The GIS stores scientific information, and provides an integral tool for resource use decision making.

Click here for the Tiwi Islands Regional Natural Resources Management Strategy

Click here for the Tiwi Islands Regional Natural Resourc Map Atlas

Click here for a statement of our vision and environmental policy (PDF - 202kb)


A number or urgent issues were identified during the development phase of the Strategy, and these will continue to be addressed as priority natural resource management issues.

Land Rangers

In April 2006 the Tiwi Land Ranger Programme was established to help address the gap in land management capacity across the Tiwi Islands.  Funding support from forestry partners Great Southern allowed the full-time employment of 8 Land Management Officers, who by 2007 had all graduated with Certificate II in Conservation and Land Management from Batchelor College.

Tiwi Land Rangers carry out a range of land management and liaison activities.  In addition to projects initiated through the Tiwi Land Council, exciting partnership projects have been developed with other land management organisations, aimed at increasing our knowledge of listed threatened species and progressively incorporating the information into land use planning.  Our Land Rangers have developed outstanding expertise in discovering and monitoring targeted species, and will retain a central role in threatened species management as projects expand to cover new species.

Land Rangers are also regularly picking up environmental contract work on the Tiwi Islands, and undertake all appropriate contracts as they become available.  Contracts include biological surveys, heritage/sacred site assessments, rehabilitation of developed areas, fire management, weed management and pest monitoring.  As well as actively seeking contract opportunities, the Tiwi Land Council closely monitors their scope in order to identify the point where there are enough contracts to provide additional full time employment.

The ongoing success of the Tiwi Land and Marine Ranger programmes was a catalyst for the formation of the Tiwi Islands Natural Resource Management Committee.  This Committee includes Tiwi Elders, Tiwi Land and Marine Rangers, and Tiwi people employed in natural resource based industry.  It determines the priorities for natural resource management on the Tiwi Islands and approves all natural resource management projects, which may be cultural, contemporary or a mixture of both.  In July 2007, the Tiwi Land Council Executive delegated the consent and planning approvals for all natural resource management to this Committee.  This further cements the reconnection of Tiwi Landowners to traditional structures through natural resource management programmes.

2Marine Rangers

Coastal areas are important to our people, and a number of projects have been developed to investigate coastal processes and carry out restoration and rehabilitation of damaged areas. Permanent monitoring sites have been installed to measure natural coastal regression, and results are now being used for future community planning.

In 2000 Instances of illegal fishing activities and the arrival of foreign vessels at Port Hurd and Milikapiti alerted us to the importance of maintaining a watch of our coastline, much of which is extremely remote. 2001 saw the appointment of a Tiwi Marine Ranger, the first indigenous Marine Ranger in the NT. In 2004 the programme was expanded with the employment of a second Marine Ranger for the Tiwi Islands, and a further two Marine Rangers were appointed in 2006.  The importance placed on these positions is evidenced through all positions being fully paid through non-government wages.  The Marine Rangers have also attained international standard accredited Coxswain qualifications.

1Our Marine Rangers carry out a range coastal and marine liaison and management activities. Activities include coastal patrols, reporting unusual or illegal activity, recording marine debris and threatened species research.  With the growing economic development on the Tiwi Islands, Marine Rangers are increasingly contracting out their services to commercial operators such as Matilda Minerals for turtle monitoring and Great Southern for marine pest monitoring at Port Melville.  Tiwi Marine Rangers also hold positions on territory and national committees and advisory groups.

Olive ridley turtle research, initially a short term project in partnership with WWF-Australia, has been supported and continued by Marine Rangers and Landowners.

Cane Toads

1The arrival of cane toads in Katherine and Kakadu prompted a response from the Tiwi Land Council to prevent their spread to the Islands. A cane toad Action Plan has been prepared and is currently being implemented.

Click here for the Cane Toad Action Plan

Click here for Tiwi native frog calls, and cane toad calls.



The Tiwi Islands are relatively free of many of the invasive species that are present on the mainland. Strict quarantine measures will ensure that new introductions are minimised, and that control of existing species is effective.

For our work in quarantine, the Tiwi Land Council received the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service 2003 Regional Quarantine Award.

Click here for quarantine information (PDF - 674kb)

Click here for information about the quarantine washdown facility

Transfer of Knowledge

For sustainable land management to become an integral aspect of decision making in the long term, it is vital that today and tomorrow’s decision-makers have a basic understanding of the issues involved and management options. Innovative methods of information transfer are required that capture the interest of our landowners and their children.

Tiwi Land Information CD.

This CD was produced to provide information to Tiwi about new ways to manage our natural resources.

Click here for more information about the CD