Bush Heritage Australia conservation planning supports jobs on country – protecting biodiversity in remote Northern Australia
Earlier this month a team of Warddeken Indigenous Rangers joined forces with scientists to survey the little-known an-binik (Allosyncarpia ternata) jungles of West Arnhem Land. The knowledge they gained will help the rangers to protect the fragile ecosystem from wildfire. During the 2014 dry season the rangers, supported by Bush Heritage, implemented a fire project as part of their Healthy Country Plan. They created a mosaic of burnt and unburnt patches across the landscape to help prevent run-away hot fires – a key threat to the plateau and the an-binik forests.
An-bilik jungle canopy. Photo Annette Ruzicka.
The survey is an important part of the work being done to inform planning for the the next five years of conservation management across the vast 1.2 million hectares of Warddeken country – an area that was only declared an Indigenous Protected Area in 2009. Bush Heritage Australia are supporting the Warddeken Traditional Owners to create their next plan of management under a new five-year (2015-2020) partnership that combines traditional knowledge with scientific expertise to protect unique Arnhem Plateau natural and cultural heritage.
"Bush Heritage Australia is the only environment NGO doing this for the long term; working with Traditional Owners across land totalling 3.5 million hectares, including the Warddeken's 1.2 million hectares," said Indigenous Partnerships manager Justin Mccaul.
Photo Annette Ruzicka.
Bush Heritage has worked with the Warddeken people since 2006. The longstanding partnership produced the first conservation management plan in the region to help protect many species listed as nationally or locally threatened, including the bustard, northern quoll, black wallaroo, Arnhem Land rock-rat and Oenpelli python. The partnership has also helped to create jobs on country where previously there were none. Last year more than 100 Indigenous people worked full-time and part-time as casual rangers and in related land management work.
"Bush Heritage Australia has an ambitious plan to protect six million hectares of the Australian bush by 2017. We will achieve this by continuing to buy properties of high conservation value and by working in partnership with traditional owners to protect the conservation values of their country – delivering biodiversity, social and cultural outcomes," he said.