Ngadju going from strength to strength managing the Great Western Woodlands

[July 2015]

A team of Ngadju people are putting new land management and conservation skills to practice to manage their country, much of the Great Western Woodlands (GWW) of Western Australia.

The 16 million hectare GWW is the largest remaining area of intact Mediterranean-climate woodland on Earth.

Rangelands NRM Program Manager, Southern Rangelands, Jane Bradley said Ngadju had recently developed a Conservation Action Plan for their country, an important milestone in the Malleefowl and Invasive Weeds program for the GWW. This is managed by Gondwana Link with funding from Rangelands NRM,  Pew Charitable Trusts and The Nature Conservancy.

Ms Bradley said the program aimed to build the capacity of the Ngadju community to manage their traditional lands, including the protection and conservation of threatened species in the GWW.

“Through Ngadju Conservation, Ngadju have sought increased capacity to undertake work that addresses their environmental concerns for their country,” she said.

The GWW is a key area of focus in the Gondwana Link collaborative effort to restore ecological connectivity and protect biodiverse bushland in the south western corner of Australia.

Gondwana Link’s capacity within the Great Western Woodlands received a boost in May with the employment of Mike Griffiths as Gondwana Link’s Great Western Woodlands Operations Manager. 

Mike will be based in - Norseman and his work will focus on supporting Ngadju Conservation, as it moves from the planning and training phases they have been involved in over the last 3-4 years into extensive on-ground operations.

Four members of Ngadju Conservation attended the Australian Rangeland Conference in Alice Springs in April to share their experiences and learn from others involved in similar endeavours. 

Ngadju On Country Coordinator David Graham presented a poster at the conference on Ngadju Conservation and the Ngadju ranger program that has been developing in Norseman over the past three years. The poster was voted equal second in the people choice award out of the 53 posters presented.

Ngadju Conservation Coordinator Les Schultz also attended the Ten Deserts workshop conducted during the conference and raised concern at the spread of buffel grass throughout central Australia. 

“The spread of Buffel Grass changes fire patterns, frequency and behaviour and it has brought home to me the risk it poses in the Great Western Woodland and why we must mitigate its threat,” Mr Schultz said.  

“While out on country, Ngadju will also be focussing on other invasive species such as Noogoora Burr and cactus, which are a threat to the GWW.”

Ms Bradley said the Rangelands NRM-funded opportunities had also involved Ngadju in fire training and a cultural exchange trip to Wiluna to spend time on-country with the Martu undertaking traditional land management activities such as burning and tracking of animals. 

“Their traditional knowledge, combined with the new knowledge they have gained will strengthen Ngadju capacity to manage and protect this internationally significant area,” she said.

This month, a Ngadju team, trained through the Rangelands NRM Fighting Fires Fast project, began work on their first fee-for-service burning contract at the mine on Fraser Range Station.

“We are delighted to see the training taking the Ngadju from strength to strength, including using their skills for paid contracts that benefit the environment,” said Ms Bradley.

Images:
1 -  The Ngadju fire team start their first fee-for-service work at Fraser Range Station.
2 - {L..R] Gondwana Link, Peter Price, Eric Wilson, Matt McKenzie, David Graham at ARS 2015 Conference