Projects in the Northern Territory
Implementing priority environmental actions for North-West, Tennant Creek, Western and Central Regions
IPA Survey Mann Ranges
Copyright: Richard Brittingham
The Central Land Council is a council of Aboriginal people elected from communities in the southern half of the Northern Territory. The Central Land Council region covers more than 770,000 square kilometres of remote, rugged and often inaccessible land that includes a number of biodiversity hotspots including biologically significant wetlands, sites of botanical significant and areas containing many threatened species. The region is divided into nine "sub-regions" based around language groups. Each of these nine sub-regions has a Natural Resource Condition Plan which documents culturally significant plants and animals, biodiversity hot spots, threatened species, fire history and feral animal and weed distribution. Each plan also lists priority actions aimed at addressing threats to biodiversity and cultural values.
Throughout this region are a number of culturally significant sites including the Pebbles, known as the Kunjharra to the Warumungu. Located North-west of Tennant Creek the Kunjharra are often referred to as the smaller relatives of the Devils marbles. It is a sacred site and is a women's dancing place for the Munga Munga Dreaming.
There are also a number of biologically significant wetlands and sites of botanical importance. Some of these areas contain many threatened species including the Night parrot (Pezoporus occidentalis), Gouldian finch (Erythrura gouldiae), Northern Marsupial mole (Notoryctes caurinus) and Greater bilby (Macrotis Lagotis).
Across the region, Aboriginal people are significant land owners who continue to use their country for hunting, gathering bush tucker and medicine and accessing culturally important sites for ceremonial activities. They maintain traditional land management practices such as fire management and the protection of significant sites.
Aboriginal people across this region are trained and employed to work as rangers in a number of ranger groups as described here:
Tjuwanpa Aboriginal Rangers
Tjuwanpa Rangers finding fresh signs of Marsupial moles
Copyright: Photo Courtesy of William Dobbie, Central Land Council
Based in Hermannsburg (Ntaria), the Tjuwanpa Rangers are one of the longest standing ranger groups in central Australia. They are responsible for removing Athel Pine (Tamarix aphylla) and other weeds of national significance in the Finke River catchment, management of threatened species in the area, care of the surrounding land trust and provision of land management services for the Northern Territory government at the nearby Finke Gorge National Park. In 2009 the rangers won the NT Indigenous Landcare Award and were finalists in the National Landcare Awards.
This group is also active commercially. They won and completed their first commercial contract by installing 400 bollards and large boulders at the Palm Valley campground. The rangers have also been contracted by Tourism NT to develop campgrounds for tourists at three outstations.
In cooperation with Magellan Petroleum Australia, the rangers are conducting an environmental survey of the Palm Valley gas field and completing a strategic firebreak to protect fire-sensitive flora.
Anangu Luritjiku Rangers
Rangers and aquatic scientist monitoring waterholes
Copyright: Richard Brittingham
This team of Aboriginal rangers based at Papunya are employed to guarantee critical conservation outcomes on the 4 million hectare Haasts Bluff Aboriginal Land Trust (ALT).
This area contains ten sites of botanical significance, five nationally listed threatened species including Mulgara (Dasycercus cristicauda), Great desert skink (Liopholis kintorei), Slater's skink (Egernia slateri), Princess parrot (Polytelis alexandrae), and Black Footed rock wallaby (Petrogale lateralis). It also contains a number of biologically significant wetlands, including Talipata Spring which is considered to be of international significance. The work of the Anangu Luritjiku Rangers is focused on the protection of these values.
Of critical relevance to the National Reserve System, the Haasts Bluff ALT represents the missing section in a contiguous north-south corridor of Indigenous Protected Areas in the Northern Territory spanning from the southern border through to Lajamanu in the Northern Tanami Desert.
Muru-Warinyi Ankkul Rangers
Indigenous ecological knowledge walk, south of Tennant Creek
Copyright: Alex Pickburn
This ranger group, based at Tennant Creek, is a significant employer in the Barkly region and works in partnership with local Traditional Owners, pastoral interests and Parks and Wildlife Commission NT to ensure sustainable land management outcomes across the region. Their name is translated from Warumungu and means "From the bush". Since the group's inception in 2003, the rangers have undertaken a large number of land management activities and have received wide recognition for their work including a Landcare Award in 2005. In recent years the rangers have undertaken a range of land management initiatives, including construction of a tourist facility at Kunjarra/The Pebbles (northwest of Tennant Creek) and completion of a weed spraying contract on three Barkly cattle stations.
The group has made significant contributions to the identification of threatened species conservation including key populations of Mulgara (Dasycercus cristicauda), Marsupial mole (Notorctes typhlops) and Bilby (Macrotis Lagotis). The Rangers have also been responsible for mapping the distribution of weeds around cultural sites, threatened species habitat, wetlands and biodiversity 'hot spot' areas, and then developing and implementing management strategies in key areas.
Wulaign Rangers at Lajamanu
Wulaign Ranger with ant hills
This ranger team operates within the Northern Tanami Indigenous Protected Area (IPA) which covers a significant part of the Tanami biogeographic region of over 280,000 square kilometres. Up to 64 per cent of this vast biogeographic region is Aboriginal freehold land; the remainder being pastoral properties.
Operating out of Lajamanu, the Wulaign Rangers work with Traditional Owners and other Lajamanu residents to undertake natural and cultural resource management on the extensive Aboriginal Land Trusts (ALT) that comprise their homelands. Their activities include managing the Northern Tanami IPA in accordance with the Plan of Management, undertaking feral animal control targeting horses, donkeys and feral stock to reduce the impact on important waterholes. Weed management activities focus on the monitoring and removal of Rubber Bush (Caloytopis procera), Parkinsonia (Parkinsonia aculeata), Couch/Grader grass (Themeda quadrivalvis), Neem (Azadirachta indica), Noogoora burr (Xanthium occidentale) and other noxious weeds. The rangers provide information to outstation residents on contemporary land management issues, undertake burning to protect/enhance a number of creek flood outs, environments, threatened species, cultural sites and outstation infrastructure and monitor threatened species, condition of wetlands, and waterbird populations. Additionally the team patrols and protects cultural sites at Jilpili.
Anmatjerr Rangers based at Ti Tree
This ranger group is based at Ti Tree (approximately half way been Tennant Creek and Alice Springs) and they undertake a range of activities including weed management, feral animal control, community education, fire management, training and education in land management. In the past, the Anmatyerr rangers have played a significant role in inland water research and management including water quality testing at important wetlands and bores. Anmatyerr rangers are also strong advocates for the conservation of Indigenous Ecological Knowledge and have worked extensively to map and record bush tucker and medicine resources throughout the region.
Overseen by a Traditional Owner Management Committee, Warlpiri Rangers carry out environmental conservation work on Warlpiri lands, using strong two-way: Yapa and Kardiya- land management principles. The Management Committee members come from Yuendumu, Nyrripi and Willowra communities. The rangers' area of operation include most of the region encompassed by the Southern Tanami Indigenous Protected Area, which in conjunction with the Northern Tanami IPA accounts for the largest protected area in the country. The ranger group is drawn from a pool of local Warlpiri people with specific skills sets to do the important work of caring for country.
Their work includes surveying for bio-diversity, Bilby (Macrotis Lagotis) monitoring, fire management, and some work with Granites Mines and commercial ecological service providers. A focus in this region is appropriate fire management. This includes studying satellite imagery by the Land Council and Bush Fires NT, training in bush fire management, talking with traditional owners to find where burning needs to be done, going out in the cold time to burn areas to reduce the impact and potential of large wild fires in the hot time. Their work in regenerating vegetation makes it easier for people to get bush tucker such as bush turkey.
Looking for Tjakura (Great Desert Skink)
Copyright: Richard Brittingham
The Kaltukatjara Rangers, based in the Docker River community, work within proposed Katiti-Petermann Indigenous Protected Area. There are six biodiversity hotspots found within their area of operation, together with 12 sites of botanical significance, two significant wetlands and several vulnerable fauna species.
The rangers' activities include planning the management of the proposed IPA, weed control, feral animal management, ecological surveys, fire management, cultural site management, exclusion fencing, and bore maintenance.