The Spinifex People in the remote southeast corner of Western Australia now have the opportunity to work On-Country, receive land management training and gain employment as Indigenous Rangers thanks to Commonwealth funding from the Biodiversity Fund.
The Spinifex Land Management and Cultural Knowledge Program (run by Pila Nguru Aboriginal Corporation) was successful in securing funding from the Biodiversity Fund for the Enhancing Western Desert Biodiversity, Connectivity and Ecosystem Resilience Project in May 2012.
Land Management and Ranger Coordinator of Pila Ngura Aboriginal Corporation, Adam Pennington said the funding success marked a significant step on the path to realising Spinifex People’s long-held aspiration to maintain traditional and customary management regimes over Spinifex Country – a 5.5 million hectare area of sand hills and sand plains, salt lakes and breakaways in the Great Victoria Desert.
“The land management program is employing Indigenous Rangers based in the remote community of Tjuntjuntjara, one of the remotest communities in Australia,” Mr Pennington said.
“Spinifex People are the traditional owners and custodians of this country, the cultural sites, knowledge and stories within it.”
The Enhancing Western Desert Biodiversity, Connectivity and Ecosystem Resilience Project will enhance biodiversity, ecosystem resilience and connectivity of Australia's desert landscape.
“At the core of the project is facilitation of inter-generational transfer of cultural knowledge from older to younger generations, and integration of that knowledge with western science and management techniques where appropriate,” Mr Pennington said.
A management plan is being developed articulating aspirations of Spinifex Traditional Owners and other stakeholders to manage Spinifex Country for biodiversity and carbon storage. The plan will be implemented by an Indigenous Ranger team based in Tjuntjuntjara.
Since the project commenced, 82 Spinifex People have been involved in workshops, planning and field activities. From July 2013, four permanent part-time Ranger positions and a host of casual positions will be created by the project.
In addition to this project, Pila Nguru collaborates with Rangelands NRM and the WA Department of Environment and Conservation (DEC) on the Desert Rangelands Project, a project that integrates modern technology with Traditional Owner’s tracking skills to build knowledge on the distribution of threatened species, monitor water quality and implement traditional Indigenous burning regimes.
Pila Nguru also conducts joint-management activities with DEC such as biological surveys and shed tank construction within and around Spinifex Country, including a number of Nature Reserves.
Mr Pennington said demand for employment with the Spinifex Land management and Cultural Knowledge Program far outweighs supply.
“Driven by this desire of Spinifex People to maintain cultural connections to country through land management, Pila Nguru plans to continue seeking funding to steadily increase its ability to employ Spinifex People in a field that is culturally relevant, meaningful, fulfilling and based on-country.”
Pila Nguru is also currently seeking funding to develop a Natual and Cultural Resource Management Centre in Spinifex Country from which to base operations, store equipment, run training courses and hold meetings.
Pila Nguru is constantly seeking partners for its Spinifex Land Management and Cultural Knowledge Program. Please contact Adam Pennington to discuss possibilities or for further information: email or 08 9037 1135.
Image ©Pila Nguru - Spinifex Rangers Delwyn Franks (middle) and Troy Hansen (left) inputting data gathered during fauna monitoring surveys into a Cybertracker with Ranger Coordinator Adam Pennington