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Rio investment fuels far-reaching Pilbara Indigenous ranger program

Tamati Smith -
wa

Rio Tinto will invest $5.6 million over five years into the Pilbara Cultural Land Management Project helping to enable Traditional Owners in the Pilbara to preserve country and culture.

The Pilbara Creative and Cultural Strategy highlighted cultural land management as a priority and the opportunity to support Pilbara Traditional Owners to lead projects that address land management and access.

In response, the PCLMP was established in 2019, with support from the Pilbara Development Commission.

As its members direct the design and development of a program to assist cultural and conservation management across their native title decisions, the PCLMP has continued to change over the past two years.

The relationship between Rio Tinto and the 12 PCLMP participants will improve their capacity to participate in training programs and contribute to the creation of technologies that support environmental, cultural, and heritage mapping, monitoring, and management.

This will also entail the creation of a network for knowledge-sharing and career development pathways, as well as the provision of start-up support for ranger programs.

Karlka Nyiyaparli Ranger Program coordinator Melissa Pepper said collaboration with other ranger groups was important.

"The PCLMP has really helped Nyiyaparli with the development process, with the PCLMP providing access to other coordinators and Rangers going through similar experiences," she said.

"There is a great willingness of all PCLMP members to share and help one another out. We all understand each other's challenges, specific to the Pilbara and in my experience, this has been unique to the PCLMP."

Yinhawangka Land Management coordinator Hilton Gruis said he hoped the program would remove fragmentation in the area and bring groups together.

"The PCLMP is removing the silo mentality in the Pilbara and supporting cultural connection across Pilbara Traditional Owner groups, recognising the critical work of all PCLMP members in the preservation of Country and culture," he said.

"For Yinhawangka people this includes the recent Yirra excavation which confirmed the presence of Yinhawangka people on Country for more than 50,000 years."

Rio Tinto Health, Safety, Environment and Communities vice president Cecile Thaxter said the miner wanted to strengthen its relationship with Traditional Owners in the region.

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   Tamati Smith   

Wa
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