From the CEO: the importance of partnerships

Sunday 21 September, 2014
Gerard O’Neill, CEO. Photo by Peter Morris.

Gerard O’Neill, CEO. Photo by Peter Morris.


We all know the Kimberly region in Western Australia is spectacular and internationally recognised for its outstanding conservation and cultural value.

Its protected areas are critical to rare animals like the black grasswren and golden bandicoot, as well as monsoon vine thicket threatened by wild fires.

This year NAIDOC week gave us cause for celebration when our partners in the Kimberley – the Wunambal Gaambera people – picked up the 2014 NAIDOC Caring for Country award. The award recognises their fantastic work in pioneering a culturally driven conservation initiative.

It was back in 2006 when the Wunambal Gaambera Aboriginal Corporation first contacted us with aspirations for protecting its traditional land – some 2.5 million hectares.

A two-year on-country planning process followed to produce a Healthy Country Plan and their Uunguu Healthy Country Project has been pioneering in the way it combines traditional knowledge with western science and planning.

A welcome sight for travellers to Charles Darwin Reserve. Photo by Cineport Media.

A welcome sight for travellers to Charles
Darwin Reserve. Photo by Cineport Media.

Developing a strategy together around controlled burns is a tangible example of our work. Each year our Healthy Country Manager Tom Vigilante and others from our team are involved in a fire walk with Uunguu rangers, to mitigate the risk of wildfire. Our scientific and culturally based monitoring program shows results are positive and the long-term plan is working.

Aboriginal partnerships have become integral to our work – from our longer-term partners in the north to emerging relationships with groups like the Bunuba community in the central Kimberley region and traditional owners responsible for the Birriliburu Indigenous Protected Area in Western Australia.

As this newsletter goes to print I’ll be just a few days from being on ground at Charles Darwin Reserve and mingling with visitors and locals from Western Australia’s Avon Wheatbelt at our reserve Open Day and Blues for the Bush event.

I’m very much looking forward to the reserve tour and discussions about the emerging Gunduwa partnership that’s leading a regional approach to land management in the area – more on that inside.

After reasonable mid-year rains the spring wildflower season promises to be spectacular. Tours will highlight our malleefowl conservation work along with restoration of disturbed areas to their rightful weed-free status. There will be some fantastic photo galleries and videos on our website from the event, and hopefully many more people around Australia can enjoy it and share the Bush Heritage experience.  

Gerard O'Neill's signature
Gerard O'Neill, CEO

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