A new video launched this month explores the success of a program that has seen Indigenous rangers partnering with researchers to better monitor and manage their land.
The short clip looks at how the Lama Lama Rangers, from the Cape York Peninsula, have trialled new methods to assess the condition of their wetlands, including the use of I-Tracker tools.
Short for Indigenous Tracker, the I-Tracker program is an initiative of the North Australian Indigenous Land and Sea Management Alliance Ltd (NAILSMA) that supports Indigenous land and sea managers to collect, map and report on spatial information to assist in the management of country.
Indigenous land and sea rangers are collectively responsible for over 25 million hectares of land and sea across northern Australia and managing threats to their country is a high priority.
NAILSMA Executive Chair Peter Yu says the new rapid assessment method has been tailored to suit the needs of Indigenous land and sea managers.
“The I-Tracker program uses world renowned CyberTracker software, coupled with field-tough hardware appropriate for use in remote areas. These tools improve the way that people can collect and manage both natural and cultural information,” he said.
In 2009 and 2010 the Lama Lama Rangers joined forces with local land management group South Cape York Catchments (SCYC) to monitor wetland health using an in-depth, paper-based method.
Through this project, a complementary rapid assessment method was developed by NAILSMA, SCYC and the rangers using a customised I-Tracker digital data collection application. This simplifies the data collection, analysis and management; and allows the rangers to monitor a larger number of wetlands every year.
“For a lot of environmental and scientific issues, long-term monitoring is very important,” Mr Yu said.
“Improving the community’s capacity to be able to implement monitoring will be significant in allowing both the Traditional Owner community and the wider Australian community to be able to get good information on issues over the long term.”
In the video, project team members explain how they have been using the rapid assessment method to monitor changes in their wetlands, including some sites that have been fenced off from pigs and cattle.
These types of collaborative partnerships are assisting Indigenous land managers to take the lead in monitoring natural resources on their country, with practical tools adapted to the individual needs and aspirations of local communities.
View the video
Image: Monitoring the Lama Lama Wetlands with the I-Tracker (Courtesy of Northern National Environment Research Program)