Indigenous rangers travelled thousands of kilometres from locations across northern Australia for a massive ranger gathering in the Kimberley this month.
Held at Pender Bay on Bardi Jawi country, the three-day Kimberley Ranger Forum was a celebration of the vital role Indigenous rangers play in protecting the environment and maintaining culture.
Hosted by the Kimberley Land Council in partnership with the Commonwealth Department of Agriculture and Water Resources, the Kimberley Ranger Forum focused on biosecurity.
About 60 different Indigenous ranger groups and 400 people were involved in the forum.
“Aboriginal people have a strong spiritual connection to country, a customary obligation and a responsibility to care for the land,” said Kimberley Land Council chief executive officer Nolan Hunter.
“For over a decade, Indigenous rangers have cared for country and culture. Now more than ever, their work is having an impact, not only in their own communities, but all over Australia.”
With more than 10,000km of coastline, islands and river inlets across northern Australia, Indigenous rangers are on the frontline to protect Australia’s biosecurity.
Their work helps safeguard Australia from biosecurity pests and diseases that could have a significant impact on agriculture industries, environment and human health.
Indigenous rangers have helped find and deal with potential biosecurity threats, such as citrus pests, exotic ants and other animal and plant pests and diseases.
They also help collect data to prove that Australia does not have specific pests and diseases that exist in other countries.
Bardi Jawi ranger Azton Howard conducts biosecurity work along the Dampier Peninsula coastline, checking the water for debris, and surveying plant and animal health.
“The success of the Indigenous ranger program is based on its strong link to people’s cultural values and their native title rights and interests,” he says.
“Timber, insects, floats, wreckage from boats, goods cast overboard and a huge amount of plastics have been removed from the Kimberley coast thanks to this work.
“This is helping to keep our country and the rest of Australia healthy and protected from diseases and pests.
“We are the eyes and ears of the north and without Indigenous rangers this work could not and would not occur.”