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For more information about news and events from Rangelands NRM, please contact the Teresa Belcher, Communications Manager.

WA’s NatureMap gets a big desert upload

Media Release

21 April 2017

Hundreds of unique records describing the biodiversity of the Western Desert have been added to WA’s NatureMap

This provides new value to the trove of data already housed in the NatureMap database which was developed by the WA Department of Parks and Wildlife and is one of the main information sources for scientists evaluating the status of threatened native fauna in Western Australia. 

Rangelands NRM Program Manager (Desert & Pilbara) Chris Curnow said the new dataset highlights the importance of Aboriginal groups contributing to our overall understanding of the natural and cultural values of Western Australia’s vast and beautiful deserts.

The data was collected over the course of the 2008¬2013 Western Desert project by ranger groups working on Martu Country (in the Great Sandy, Gibson and Little Sandy deserts), Ngururrpa Country (in the Great Sandy Desert), Birriliburu Country (in the Little Sandy & Gibson deserts), Spinifex Country (in the Great Victoria Desert) and Yilka Country (in the Great Victoria Desert).

These areas are now all determined Native Title areas.

Support to ranger groups

Rangelands NRM provided funding support to Kanyirninpa Jukurrpa (KJ) and Central Desert Native Title Services’ Land & Community team to provide the foundational and logistical support to the various ranger groups.

“Experts from Parks and Wildlife and other desert wildlife zoologists provided training in desert wildlife survey techniques as well as expertise in the methods for collecting, storing and reporting the survey data,” Chris said.

Alison McGilvray*, conservation officer with Parks and Wildlife’s Pilbara Region, was instrumental in bringing together the necessary experts and workshops in wildlife survey methods and worked hard with the Traditional Owners to ensure that the data they agreed to share with the public had the cultural authority of the elders.

‘It was a privilege to work with Traditional Owners on their country and help them to integrate a small part of their vast knowledge of country and the plants and animals that make up the desert landscapes into a platform that is accessible to members of the public and other specialist organisations, helping to fill the knowledge gaps that exist in our recorded data systems,” Alison said.

Collection of biodiversity data

Until now, there has been little inclusion in NatureMap of biodiversity data collected by Traditional Owners.

Since around 2008, Aboriginal ranger groups from across WA’s Western Deserts have systematically collected biodiversity data relating to threatened species and the threats these species face.

These undertakings have required innumerable on-country trips and dedicated capacity-building of the rangers in scientific methods of mammal, reptile and invertebrate survey and data collection by the increasingly organised ranger teams that now cover the vast areas of Traditional Owner-managed desert country in WA.

Chris said these desert wildlife monitoring skills and survey data recording procedures are still in place and more and more desert ranger groups are employing the same methods today.

This not only helps people gain an insight into the Traditional Owners’ understanding of their country, but also provides the rest of the scientific community with access to this valuable biodiversity survey data.

Paul Gioia, Ecoinformatics Unit Manager at Parks and Wildlife, who led the way in the development of the State’s peak biodiversity portal, said that it is important that the full picture of scientific survey and collection of biodiversity data is reflected in one place.

“Biodiversity data is now available in ways that were unimaginable a few decades ago. Portals like NatureMap, its sister site FloraBase, and the Atlas of Living Australia, now provide users [with flora and fauna] occurrence data at their fingertips, saving countless hours of data compilation, and providing a more informed basis for decision-making associated with sustainable development and land use planning.”

Within WA, NatureMap provides the most accurate and comprehensive data available for conservation planning, environmental impact assessment and scientific research. This capability is now significantly enhanced with the data collected by Traditional Owners while looking after their Country, in areas where we’ve had little data in the past”, he said.

Filling the ‘black hole’ for desert data

Tristan Cole, Environmental Strategy and Services Manager at KJ, said for too long the repository of the State’s biodiversity data has shown a ‘black hole’ over desert country where Traditional Owners have been busy surveying and collecting data for years.

Rangers work across their country, which is 13.5 million hectares —twice the size of Tasmania—managing biodiversity and cultural values.

“It’s fantastic to have Martu [and the other desert] rangers’ work recognised and be able to fill in the gap that existed on NatureMap,” Tristan said.

“Looking after and managing country is intrinsic to Martu—It is a responsibility that is founded in their culture.   

“By combining traditional ecological knowledge with contemporary natural resource management techniques [Aboriginal] rangers are looking after country and increasing biodiversity through ‘right way’ fire, monitoring of threatened species and through the removal of feral animals,” he said.  

“The ranger program also provides an important platform for the inter-generational transfer of the elders’ knowledge. There is a limited timeframe for this transfer of knowledge with many of the pujiman (bushman) who lived a traditional lifestyle are getting old and sadly passing away.” 

Martu elder Ms Rita Cutter from Wiluna is a Senior Martu Ranger with the Birriliburu# Women Rangers team who has been on various ranger exchanges as well as taking her message to bureaucrats and politicians in Perth and in Canberra.

“Projects like this, working with scientists, enable me to get out on country and pass down my knowledge, of the animals and plants,” she said.

“We can share that knowledge two-way [with scientists]. When I'm on Country, it’s part of me, that ground, that ngurra (home). I feel it. All that knowledge comes out through me; I feel it strong. When I touch my country, when I put my foot on that land, I have tears: I'm standing on the same ground as where I was born. That is special. I treasure that knowledge that the old people gave me.”

Continued support needed for ranger groups

The work of the Aboriginal ranger groups across the state is largely funded by federal government and philanthropic investments.

“Country needs people. Keeping our focus on the broader benefits and the social return on investment, providing foundational support for Aboriginal rangers is a clear win-win situation,” Chris said.

“Communities find the unifying properties of a ranger group something to hold on to. It’s solid and shows people a clear way to re-connect to Country. With these connections done the right way, the avenues are open for whitefella science to join hands with Traditional Owners in long term partnerships for caring for Country and the people who are from there,” he said.

Chris Curnow counsels that we need to continue to support Indigenous Rangers in this on-going data collection and assimilation process, lest we lose that link between what many blackfellas already know and what whitefellas spend a lot of money trying to find out.

“It’s wonderful that the efforts of people like Rita Cutter and her people in surveying and mapping our desert Country’s plants and animals is now shared [on NatureMap] right alongside the work of whitefella science,” he said.


For more information, contact:

Chris Curnow (Program Manager - Desert & Pilbara), 0429 387 644, 

Teresa Belcher (Communications Manager), 0488 594 324, 


NatureMap publishes data from a wide range of sources, including the State’s flora and fauna collections from the WA Herbarium and WA Museum, Parks and Wildlife’s management databases, and many survey datasets from both regionally based and geographically restricted surveys, including data sourced from the Atlas of Living Australia. Since its launch in 2008, NatureMap has become the most accurate and comprehensive repository available of Western Australian plant and animal occurrences. It is used by mining companies, developers and consultants when commencing surveys for environmental impact assessments.

The Desert Rangelands biodiversity data collected by Traditional Owners can now be interrogated (alongside all existing biodiversity data) via the WA Parks and Wildlife NatureMap spatial database online at:

* Alison McGilvray is no longer with the Pilbara region in Parks and Wildlife. 

# The Birriliburu rangers were one of the desert ranger groups collecting scientific data on the presence of threatened species on their Country—the 66,540 square kilometre Birriliburu Indigenous Protected Area, which covers parts of the Little Sandy and Gibson deserts.

Rangelands eNews - Jan-Feb 2017

Rangelands NRM eNews - January/February 2017 [View]

Rangelands eNews - Nov-Dec 2016

Rangelands eNews - November-December 2016 [View]

Media Release - Winners announced for 2016 kids’ outback photo competition

[25 November 2016]

Results are out for this year’s Kaz Collins School of the Air Photo Competition run by Rangelands NRM for children living in the outback of Western Australia.

‘Working in the rangelands’ was the theme of the competition this year, now in its sixth year. 

A total of 111 photo entries were received from 36 individual students from all five Schools of the Air – Kalgoorlie, Meekatharra, Carnarvon, Port Hedland and Kimberley. 

The overall first prize goes to Madison (Year 6) from Meekatharra School of the Air. Madison’s image ‘March In’ is a photo she took when she went in the helicopter at ‘yard up’. It shows cattle being mustered into the yard by a number of vehicles. 

Runner up was Will, a Year 1 student from Kimberley School of the Air. Will’s photo ‘Under the Boab Bridge’ captures stock being worked in the rangelands under a number of boab trees. 

The competition awarded a first and second overall prize and a first, second and third for the age groups Lower Primary (Kindy, Pre-Primary, Years 1 and 2), Middle Primary (Years 3, 4 and 5) and Upper Primary (Years 6 and 7).

Rangelands NRM Chief Executive Officer Dr Gaye Mackenzie said the competition is a great opportunity to raise awareness of natural resource management and encourage the children to think about different aspects of ‘work’.

“Enteries showed different interpretations of this theme, from cattle mustering, sheep shearing and station equipment to shots of historical buildings and equipment, as well as animals such as bees ‘working’,” Dr Mackenzie said.

Rangelands NRM would like to thank Swish Design, SciTech and the Johnson Family for their continued support of the competition. 

“We’ve got some fabulous prizes including a digital camera, a compact camera, science kits, books, games and fun items,” Communications Manager Teresa Belcher said.

All children who entered the competition receive a small gift and a certificate.

All winning photos can be viewed on the Rangelands website Some of the images will appear in our 2015-16 Annual Report. A 2017 Calendar will also be produced.  

For more information, contact: Teresa Belcher, 0488 594 324,   

Winning Photos:

 Overall 1st - Madison Yr6 MSOTA ‘March In’


 Overall 2nd - Will Yr1 KSOTA ‘Under the Boab Bridge’


Lower Primary:

 1st Lower - Grace Yr 1 PHSOTA ‘Dad and the Calves’

 2nd Lower - Ty Yr2 KalSOTA ‘Wagon Wheels’



3rd Lower - Sam Kindy KSOTA ‘Old Quarters


Middle Primary

1st Middle - Emily Yr 5 CSOTA ‘After Fixing the Mill’


2nd Middle - Jakob Yr4 MSOTA ‘Early Morning Windmill Run’


 3rd Middle - Billy Yr4 KSOTA ‘Control Burning


Upper Primary

 1st Upper - Alannah Yr7 KalSOTA ‘Chopper and Truck’


2nd Upper - Lee Yr7 KalSOTA ‘Reflections of the Day’ 


 3rd Upper - Zi Yr7 PHSOTA ‘Windmill Man’


* High resolution images are available



The photo competition was the idea of Rangelands NRM Landcare Coordinator Kaz Collins who was tragically killed in a car accident in July 2012. With the support of Kaz’s family (the Johnson Family), the competition will be an ongoing event in memory of Kaz and her contribution to the rangelands.

Rangelands NRM
Rangelands NRM is an independent, non-political and not-for-profit organisation. Consequently, it is in an ideal position to create space for groups to talk, grow and build processes to work together to address NRM issues facing the rangelands of WA. With the WA rangelands covering 2.5 million square kilometres, Rangelands NRM operates in the largest of the 56 NRM regions in Australia, responsible for around 85 per cent (2,266,000 sq km) of WA’s land mass, and 75 per cent of the coastline.

Rangelands NRM eNews - Sept-Oct 2016

Rangelands eNews - September-October 2016 [View]

Rangelands eNews - July-August 2016


Rangelands eNew - July-August 2016 [View]

Carbon magazine showcases NRM collaboration

17 August 2016

Results from a four-year long, WA-wide carbon awareness project are showcased in a new publication released today.

The Royalties for Regions Carbon Project – Showcase details the achievements of five of the WA Natural Resource Management (NRM) groups who worked with land managers to develop 25 demonstration sites throughout WA. 

The project commenced in 2012, after Royalties for Regions (R4R) awarded funding to the Department of Agriculture and Food Western Australia (DAFWA) to deliver a state-wide, carbon farming awareness project.

The aim was to develop an understanding in regional WA of the productivity, profitability and sustainability potential of carbon farming, associated risks and supporting communities to responsibly manage their natural resources.

In order to build capacity at all levels and strengthen linkages between research and land managers, DAFWA opted to partner with six of the WA NRM groups to deliver the project—Northern Agricultural Catchments Council (NACC), Rangelands NRM, South Coast NRM, South West Catchment Council (SWCC) and Wheatbelt NRM.

Together the partners worked to fill research gaps and improve general understanding of the complex and dynamic federal carbon legislation and carbon market environment.

In the high rainfall regions of the south west, demonstration sites were established evaluating the benefits of adding compost to dairy farms for pasture growth rates and soil organic carbon, while another trial looked at the use of biochar as a carbon sequestration tool. 

In south coastal regions, soil organic carbon increases under biological farming techniques and reducing emissions from livestock with perennial grazing systems were key carbon farming activities. 

Across the central and northern Wheatbelt, on-farm examples of carbon farming looked at brown manuring crops, sandalwood plantations and forage shrub plantings for carbon storage. 

Across the rangelands, sites demonstrated how much carbon is stored above and below the soil.

Chair of NRM WA Jim Sullivan said by partnering with the NRM groups, the message was taken directly to five regions and delivered by NRM field staff that had established trust networks with members of the community. 

“Through this program, over 1000 land managers were reached through workshops, field days and staffed information displays at regional events,” he said. 

WA shows clear indications of being negatively affected by a rapidly changing climate. 

“Land managers are at the front line of those affected by climate change and are also leading the way in terms of adopting and trialing innovative practices to improve the resiliency of the landscape,” Mr Sullivan said.

Despite the conclusion of the formal project, each of the NRM groups has made a commitment to continue to bring the carbon conversation to WA land managers and continue to encourage the take up of appropriate carbon practices.

“Together we are aiming to put WA land managers at the forefront of making carbon money from their marginal or better land as another income source.”

The report was released today to coincide with the ‘Outback Carbon Farming Conference’ organised by the Partnership for The Outback at QV1. Copies are available at the conference, can be downloaded from the NRM WA website, or from Rangelands NRM Ph 08 9468 8250 or email


Natural Resource Management (NRM) brings together the people and places of Western Australia through adoption of practical solutions to common issues faced by land managers across our large and diverse State. 

NRM WA is the collective of the seven NRM Regional groups, each with a regional focus and direct access to a wealth of grassroots knowledge as well as the capacity to build efficient networks with industry, research and government.

For more information about NRM in WA contact Executive Manager Dr Kathleen Broderick:
m: 0427 566 865 or email.

Photo: NRM WA's Executive Officer Kath Broderick and Rangelands NRM's Operations Manager John Silver at the 'Outback Carbon Farming Conference' with the new showcase (Image courtesy PEW Charitable Trusts)

Inaugural competition to showcase Pilbara’s stock handling skills

Media Release

Pastoralists will get the chance to demonstrate their stock handling skills and learn from other teams in the inaugural Pilbara Livestock Handling Cup later this month at Yarrie Station in the Pilbara. The event, which will start on Friday 29 July with an Information Sharing Field Day, and follow up with the competition on Saturday 30 July, aims to foster the idea that stockmanship is a profession and an art.

Stock handling PilbaraIt’s the first of its kind in Australia and probably the world, says Boyd Holden from Holden Agricultural Management Services, who has delivered stock handling training throughout Australia and overseas, and worked closely with the National Meat Industry Training Advisory Council in 2012 to develop training and assessment programs for feedlots and saleyards.

“As far as stockmanship events go, others have invariably included horses and dogs. This event focuses purely on the direct relationship between humans and cattle”, Mr Holden said.

Teams of three will compete against each other to demonstrate a number of livestock handling activities that will be similar to typical cattle handling situations during mustering, yarding and loading cattle on pastoral stations.

Pastoralists, cattle industry reps, consultants, regional groups and State agencies are invited to attend to display and talk about products, projects and ideas over the two-day period.

Owner and manager of Yarrie Station, Annabelle Coppin said how we handle, train or educate livestock is an intrinsic part of how cattle and people interact and the better we are at doing this the better we are at looking after the landscape.

“As producers we always should be practicing and improving good solid stockmanship as it is strongly correlated to high animal welfare outcomes for cattle. We also hope this cup will build a sense of pride in stations teams to high stockmanship and also encourage new skills and ideas to be shared amongst each other.”

The competition will be judged by top livestock handling trainer and consultant, Boyd Holden.

“Educating livestock has a number of intrinsic benefits, including improving the ease of handling, ensuring the safety of stockhandlers, and safeguarding our high standards of animal welfare. This systematic approach to good stockmanship also includes becoming more effective communicators with other people in the industry’s supply chain in order to get consistency with how the livestock are handled at all stages from paddock to plate,” Mr Holden said.

The inaugural Pilbara Livestock Handling Cup will comprise of four main components 1) Droving and holding a mob up; 2) Drafting or sorting cattle; 3) Obstacle course; and 4) Communication.

Rangelands NRM Pilbara Program Manager Chris Curnow said the event will also enable the sharing of experiences and knowledges amongst peers and stockhandlers alike.

“It’s a great networking opportunity and a chance to discuss ideas about how to work together better,” he said.

The Cup will be held at Yarrie Station in the Pilbara from 29–30 July, and is run by the De Grey LCDC with support from Rangelands NRM through funding from the National Landcare Programme, DAFWA Northern Beef Futures Project, Royalties for Regions and MLA Donor Company, and event sponsorship from Primaries,Territory Rural and Goad Livestock/Landmark.

Overnight camping is encouraged. Catering will be provided for main meals from the Friday lunch to Sunday breakfast. BYO alcoholic drinks.

For more information, contact:

•      Bill Currans - 0488 383 449 –

•      Annabelle Coppin – 0428 956 692 

•      Boyd Holden – 0429 653 280

•      More information visit



Rangelands NRM:

Rangelands NRM WA is a not for profit, non-aligned, community-based group which aims to enhance the sustainable management of the WA rangelands through facilitation, collaboration and delivering outcomes. It is the largest of the 56 NRM regions in Australia, covering around 85 per cent (2,266,000 sq km) of the WA State’s land mass, and 75 per cent of the coastline.

Image: Mustered cattle.

Event supported by:

Rangelands Landcare   MLA