Partnerships and tools to support biodiversity monitoring by Indigenous land and sea managers

This research developed new monitoring tools for Indigenous land and sea managers.  The project brought together Indigenous communities, rangers, researchers and other stakeholders on three case studies to develop data collection and monitoring tools that both support the needs of the local land and sea management group, and were also relevant to other communities in northern Australia.

The growing Indigenous environmental workforce situated across remote northern Australia is growing in capacity and becoming increasingly skilled, adopting new techniques and technology to better manage and monitor biodiversity. To support this effort Indigenous land and sea managers, such as rangers, need access to scientifically robust methods and techniques that are directly relevant to the work they are doing on the ground.

Monitoring programs that deliver data useful to regional and national planning will be of the greatest benefit to national and state planners and policy makers. However if monitoring programs and tools are not also practical and relevant to local needs and aspirations, they are unlikely to be supported and implemented in the long term.

The project involved three case studies.  The research in all case studies was driven by Indigenous community priorities and supported the implementation of community-based plans. The project included extension activities like workshops and practical on-ground activities to share tools with other relevant groups.

  1. The Uunguu Rangers case study supported Wunambal Gaambera Aboriginal Corporation’s Uunguu Rangers in the development of a sea turtle, dugong and sea grass monitoring program.  Technical support was provided by NAILSMA, the University of Western Australia and CSIRO.
  2. The Nyul Nyul Rangers case study supported the Kimberley Land Council’s Nyul Nyul Rangers in the development of a freshwater spring monitoring program.  Technical support was provided by NAILSMA, the University of Western Australia and Griffith University.
  3. The Lama Lama Rangers case study supported Yintjingga Aboriginal Corporation’s Lama Lama Rangers in the development of a rapid freshwater wetland monitoring program. Technical support was provided by NAILSMA and South Cape York Catchments.

Building on the NAILSMA’s I-Tracker program, all case studies developed data collection applications and associated mapping and reporting capabilities using CyberTracker TM software. These applications were used on rugged mobile data collection devices to suit the remote conditions in which rangers operate, including extreme weather. Community friendly support tools, such as field training handbooks were created with input from all project partners to complement these applications.

  • The Uunguu case study was based near Kalumburu in the North Kimberley.
  • The Nyul Nyul case study was based at Beagle Bay in the Kimberley north of Broome.
  • The Lama Lama case study was based at Point Stewart in Cape York.
I-Tracker Turtle and Dugong Survey Field Book
Waterplant Guide - A guide to help ranger groups with the 'Waterplants' section of the I-Tracker Cape York Rapid Wetland Assessment (presentation)

The project was led by Micha Jackson from NAILSMA.  Project partners included:

  • Wunambal Gaambera Aboriginal Corporation’s Uunguu Rangers
  • Kimberley Land Council supported Nyul Nyul Rangers
  • Yintjingga Aboriginal Corporation’s Lama Lama Rangers
  • CSIRO
  • The University of Western Australia
  • Griffith University
  • South Cape York Catchments
  • NAILSMA

The support of the Kalumburu, Beagle Bay and Port Stewart communities was instrumental in project implementation. Project outreach and sharing also occurred with many Indigenous ranger programs across northern Australia.

Project contact:
Christy Davies
North Australian Land and Sea Management Alliance
[email protected]
08 8946 7673