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Indigenous leadership vital to "30 by 30" global conservation goal - key Australian group

Giovanni Torre -

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander conservation network Country Needs People has welcomed the global agreement to protect 30% of the world's biodiversity by 2030 at the UN Biodiversity Conference, COP 15, but say Indigenous land and sea management must be prioritised and fully supported to achieve the goal.

Country Needs People board director Rarrtjiwuy Melanie Herdman said it was inspiring to attend COP15 and see the global push for Indigenous land and sea management, and the prominence of Indigenous knowledge and continuous living culture, at the conference.

"Lands held by Indigenous peoples contain around 80% of the world's biodiversity. In Australia it's crucial that Indigenous Rangers and Indigenous Protected Areas get the support they need from government, supporting infrastructure, capacity and sustainability, to look after sea and land country long into the future," she said.

Country Needs People chief executive Patrick O'Leary welcomed the Australian government "advocating strongly for biodiversity protection".

"It's key that the federal government stays firm on its major commitments to increase resources for Indigenous Ranger and Indigenous Protected Areas by rebuilding the capacity of the federal environment department. Staff focused on supporting Indigenous land and sea management were cut by over 90% over the last decade," he said.

"If we're fair dinkum about protecting biodiversity and ensuring Indigenous land and sea managers are front and centre we need to ensure that traditional owners are fully supported to continue the challenging work they do caring for Country in a changing climate, with significant economic and social pressures."

Country Needs People's Rarrtjiwuy Melanie Herdman with Patrick O'Leary at COP 15, Montreal. Photo Credit: Country Needs People.

Country Needs People is an independent not-for-profit organisation with a network of 44 Aboriginal and Torres Strait organisations who work and advocate for the growth, security and quality of Indigenous sustainable land and sea management Australia wide.

Ms Herdman and Mr O'Leary returned to Australia from Montreal on Tuesday after advocating for Indigenous land and sea management at the UN Biodiversity Conference, alongside other Indigenous representatives from around the world.

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