A big, heartfelt congratulations to our partners in the Kimberly – the Wunambal Gaambera – who’ve been acknowledged with the 2014 Caring for Country NAIDOC award at a ceremony on the Gold Coast on 12 July.
The award recognises the outstanding efforts of the Wunambal Gaambera people and their Uungu Healthy Country Project, which combines the best traditional knowledge with western science to keep their country or living home ('uungu') healthy.
Wunambal Gaambera's ancestral lands cover around 2.5 million hectares in the spectacular North Kimberly Region of Western Australia and are nationally and internationally recognised as being of outstanding conservation and cultural value.
Significant numbers of threatened, endemic, migratory and marine species live in the area, which is also a significant tourism destination including Punamii-Uunpuu (Mitchell Falls) and extensive rock art galleries.
Today over 600 Wunambal Gaambera people are represented by the Wunambal Gaambera Aboriginal Corporation (WGAC) who first approached Bush Heritage in 2006 to support their aspirations to protect and manage their traditional lands.
Over a 2 year on country planning process the Wunambal Gaambera Healthy Country Plan was developed and this has influenced many other Aboriginal groups, in particular the use of 'healthy country planning' for country.
In 2011 they finally secured native title over their country, at the same time they declared the first stage of the Uunguu Indigenous Protected Area, covering 343,515 hectares of country. We also then committed to a 10-year partnership agreement – the first such long-term partnership between traditional landowners and a non-government conservation organisation.
The Uunguu Healthy Country Project has had many positive impacts, which include:
- getting Traditional Owners back onto country
- helping to pass on cultural knowledge,
- providing employment and
- providing capacity for long-term management of country
For Bush Heritage we are thrilled to see our partner - Wunambal Gaambera Traditional Owners and rangers - recognised by their peers for their vision and hard work through this national NAIDOC award.