Projects in Western Australia
Ngaanyatjarra Council Aboriginal Corporation
Photo by Rodney Edwards
The Ngaanyatjarra Lands cover a total area of 250,000 square kilometres - of which 98,000 square kilometres is an Indigenous Protected Area (IPA). Close to the size of Tasmania, the IPA encompasses the entire West Australian section of the Central Ranges Bioregion, which until declaration was unprotected by any other reserve system.
The high levels of biological diversity that exist on the Lands are a direct result of traditional land management practices. The declaration of the Ngaanyatjarra Lands IPA articulates this relationship between culture and land, and traditional owners' desire to strengthen and maintain Traditional Law and practice.
The Ngaanyatjarra Council Aboriginal Corporation employs four teams of Aboriginal rangers to help meet the region's environmental challenges. The rangers provide essential services in the remote region including field trips to identify the status and implement management needs for threatened species such as black-footed rock-wallaby (Petrogale lateralis), great desert skink (Liopholis kintorei) and bilby (Macrotis Lagotis) populations. Other activities include fire management activities, cleaning and maintaining rock holes to provide clean, fresh water for a range of native fauna, managing the impact of feral pests such as camels, supporting traditional ecological knowledge and cultural activities and continuing to develop tourist management strategies.
Martu are the traditional owners of the Western Desert region in Western Australia which comprises parts of the Great Sandy, Little Sandy and Gibson Deserts. Kanyirninpa Jukurrpa (KJ) is a Martu controlled not-for-profit organisation with the objective to preserve Martu culture and establish a viable economy for its communities.
The Western Desert Martu ranger program, supported by KJ, is delivered through three ranger teams working across 65,000km2 of Indigenous land. The program delivers a range of environmental activities including weed management, feral animal control, fire management, cultural heritage management and protection of EPBC listed threatened species including the Black-footed Rock Wallaby (Petrogale lateralis), Greater Bilby (Macrotis Lagotis), Mulgara (Dasycercus cristicauda), and Marsupial Mole (Notoryctes typhlops). The rangers also work closely with schools and communities to spread the word about the Martu ranger program.
Martu Rangers on country trip
Photo courtesy of Kanyirninpa Jukurrpa
The Jigalong rangers work with community members on natural and cultural resource management activities such as water management, mosaic burning of country, weed management and feral animal control. The use of helicopters enables the rangers to access, map and manage country not easily accessible to Martu. Their work also involves collaboration with WA Department of Environment and Conservation to protect the Black-footed Rock Wallaby (Petrogale lateralis), or warru as known by Martu. The rangers are involved in predator control and monitoring activities such as trapping and microchipping of warru. The team is also responsible for tourism management activities such as Canning Stock Route permit compliance checks and provision of visitor information.
The Parnngurr ranger team, currently in its third year of operation, works with the rest of the community to look after country east of Parnngurr. There are currently six rangers employed to deliver water management, fire management and weed management activities. This team is highly praised by the community for opening access to country that Martu have not been able to visit for a long time. Community engagement in Parnngurr ranger activities continues to facilitate transfer of Indigenous ecological knowledge and provide younger community members with on-the-job training.
The Punmu ranger team is the latest of the three Martu teams to commence operation. Since its inception in early 2012, the team has travelled in all directions from Punmu in order for the younger rangers to better familiarise themselves with the country they manage. Aerial mapping, burning of country and management of water points has been a top priority for this team. The community continues to play an active role in ranger planning processes.
The Kimberley region of Western Australia covers 421,000 square kilometres. Aboriginal people make up almost half of the population and their cultures, traditions and languages are as diverse as the landscape itself.
Kimberley Traditional Owners continue to define themselves according to their cultural values and traditions which are inextricably tied to the land, the sea and the waters of the region. Traditional law, customs and languages are practised across the Kimberley.
The Kimberley is recognised globally as an area of immense natural beauty and scientific importance. It boasts a network of culturally significant sites including Dreaming pathways, ceremonial places, burial sites and rock engravings. Some of these sites are listed as being of national heritage significance.
It is also a region of vast climatic and physical contrasts that support thousands of plants and animal species, many of them highly restricted to specific habitat types within the region. Large plateaux, ancient reefs and ranges form complex catchments that feed monsoonal rains onto flood plains and vast inter tidal mud flats that are subjected to one of the largest tidal ranges in the world.
There are nine Working on Country ranger groups in the Kimberley, delivering land management plans for their traditional country which covers 210,081 square kilometres, or about 50% of the Kimberley region.
Kimberley Rangers and guests at the Kimberley Ranger Forum 2010
Photo courtesy of Kimberley Land Council
The Wunggurr rangers manage parts of the Wanjina Wunggurr Wilinggin native title claim which covers 60,150 square kilometres of land in the northern-central area of the Kimberley. The world-renowned Gibb River road extends through Wanjina Wunggurr Wilinggin country and managing the impacts of tourists forms a large part of the workplan for the Wunggurr rangers. The rangers also protect cultural sites and waterways, conduct fire management and control feral animals across their land.
The Wanjina, Wunggurr and Wilinggin communities have a strong culture and are keeping it alive by working with both old and young people to look after their country for future generations.
Paruku IPA Senior Ranger Jamie Brown
Photo courtesy of Kimberley Land Council
Lake Gregory (Paruku) is a Ramsar listed group of wetlands that are central to the cultural heritage of the peoples of the Tjurabalan Native Title Area in the Western Great Sandy Desert. An Indigenous Protected Area was declared over 430,000 hectares of this country in 2001, and has several groups of Traditional Owners, including Walmajarri, Jaru and Kukatja peoples.
The Paruku IPA Rangers work closely with their elders to ensure that knowledge is passed down to the younger generations, so they know their land and culture stories. The rangers primarily manage tourism impacts associated from visitors who use the Canning Stock Route. The management of feral horses, cattle and camels is also a major component of the work plan for the Paruku IPA rangers.
Bardi Jawi rangers tagging a Dugong off the Dampier Peninsular
Photo by Richard Meister
The Bardi Jawi Native Title area covers 1,037 square kilometres of land and an area of sea country extending to three nautical miles within the Kimberley region of Western Australia. This area includes a culturally significant site that straddles the three nautical mile boundary in the north west of the Claim Area along with the Julinaburr / Bruce Reef which is 12 nautical miles to the north of the Dampier Peninsula.
Supported through Working on Country, the Bardi Jawi Rangers monitor threatened species including four species of marine turtle and Dugong via catch surveys, and have built a baseline data set for Seagrass meadows in the Bardi Jawi region by applying the 'Seagrass Watch' methodology.
The rangers also patrol the Kooljaman land and coast to help mitigate threats posed to cultural assets by visitors and tourists and undertake weed management and fire mitigation activities within highly significant remnant monsoonal vine thickets throughout the region.
Uunguu Rangers training in control burning techniques
Photo by Robert Warren
The Uunguu Rangers come from Wunambal Gaambera Country. The country has been the home of the Wunambal and Gaamgera people for many thousands of years and comes from the one Wanjina Wunggurr culture. Like their ancestors, they call their country “Uunguu” - our living home. From this came the Uunguu Rangers. Uunguu are based in Kalumburu, in the Far North Kimberley - arguably the most remote Aboriginal Community in Australia, the native area covers 25,909 square kilometers of land and sea country in the northwest Kimberley.
Through Working on Country, the rangers have a mammoth task monitoring and maintaining managing their vast land and sea country. Fire management activities to prevent destructive late-dry season wildfires, is an integral part of the Uunguu rangers scope of works. The rangers also assist with the management of important cultural sites in the extremely popular Mitchell Plateau National Park.
Nyul Nyul Land and Sea Rangers
The Nyul Nyul Native Title Lands cover approximately 1,196 square kilometres of land and sea in the Kimberley region and are located about 100 kilometres north of Broome on the Dampier Peninsula. This country contains profound cultural and environmental values including significant species such as the Bilby and Northern Quoll. The Nyul Nyul Land and Sea Rangers project plays a central role in implementing Traditional Owner, State and National management priorities to conserve and protect these lands.
A team of Aboriginal rangers have been employed to undertake resource management and deliver management priorities for this popular tourist area. Protecting delicate coastal habitats from tourism impacts, fire and weeds is an integral component of the ranger's work. The rangers are guided by Traditional Owners to promote knowledge transfer, and are often called upon to support community activities associated with land and sea management. They also interact with visitors to the region to increase public awareness of natural resource management priorities on their country.
Nyikina Mangala rangers
The Nykina Mangala native title claim area covers 27,000 square kilometres around the Fitzroy Valley. The Nyikina Mangala rangers are based at the community of Jarlmadangah and their work is focused around the Fitzroy River, which is central to the cultural heritage of the Nyikina Mangala people.
The Nyikina Mangala rangers work to manage feral animals, weeds and to prevent wildfires across their country. The rangers also have worked with partnering universities and resource management agencies to document fish species in the Fitzroy. The involvement of the rangers has facilitated valuable research on the movement and habitat of the threatened fresh water sawfish Pristis microdon through satellite tagging work.
The community of Djugerari where the Ngurrara rangers are based
Photo by David Foster
The Ngurrara rangers are based at the community of Djugerari and they manage the Ngurrara native title area of some 77,814 square kilometres in the southern Kimberley region, which includes part of the Canning Stock Route. The rangers are instructed by Traditional Owners to protect heritage through knowledge transfer, and to physically protect culturally important sites by managing visitors, fire weeds and feral animals.
Through Working on Country, a number of rangers undertake training in conservation and land management, relevant occupational health and safety training, conduct biodiversity surveys and record species abundance across representative habitat types within Ngurrara country.
The Ngurrara rangers undertake cat, fox and camel management work, based on biodiversity survey monitoring results, traditional and local knowledge. They also undertake weed management surveys to inform control plans and management for Weeds of National Significance (WONS) along with other weeds in the region. The rangers monitor freshwater wetland sites to prioritise and implement management actions under the guidance of traditional owners. Following identification of fire management sites through community-based planning, the ranger team also conducts annual burns.
We, the Karajarri Rangers are continuing on the work of our old people, using the traditional knowledge they have to learn about how to look after our country. Karajarri Country stretches all the way from the desert jilas and sand dunes to the ocean where our coastline is dotted with tidal creeks and freshwater springs. We have a responsibility to our people and our country. Looking after and protecting our native plants, animals and cultural sites from humans, fire, weeds, cattle and pests, is what we are here to do.
Kimberley Land Council website.
The Karajarri lands lie 200 kilometres south of Broome and include 130 kilometres of coastline stretching from Gordon Bay to Cape Missiessy. The rangers focus on coastal management issues to reduce the impacts on the region's natural and cultural values through visitor management. By incorporating western survey techniques with traditional ecological knowledge, they undertake baseline biodiversity surveys with the assistance of specialists, and develop ongoing monitoring programs. This allows rangers to gauge the results of their land management work to manage weeds, feral animals and wildfires.
Miriuwung Gajerrong Yirrgeb Noong Aboriginal Corporation (MG Corporation) Aboriginal Rangers
Aboriginal Rangers for Reserve 31165 is a unique project located in the East Kimberley Region of Western Australia. The reserve covers 125,000 hectares and is bordered on two sides by Lake Argyle; a man-made lake constructed as part of the Ord River Irrigation Scheme. The region contains eighteen nationally threatened and/or migratory species and a significant proportion of the Lake Argyle Ramsar listed wetland.
The project is jointly managed by the Miriuwung Gajerrong people and the Western Australian Department of Water as part of the Ord Final Agreement 2005, continuing the partnership already in place and building the capacity of local Indigenous people to manage their country.
A team of Aboriginal rangers are delivering environmental management activities and other forms of resource management, most notably, recording the traditional knowledge held by Traditional Owners and elders.
Environment Programmes Branch
Indigenous Affairs - Centra Plaza
Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet
PO Box 6500
Canberra ACT 2600
Phone 1800 982 280 (free call) Email WorkingOnCountry@