Dr Sally Box, the Australian Government’s Threatened Species Commissioner, talks about the importance of working with Indigenous groups
to conserve Australia’s threatened species.
The knowledge, skills and dedication of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are critical to the effective management of Australia’s environment and heritage.
A large number of threatened species in Australia occur almost exclusively on Indigenous-owned and -managed land. Indigenous rangers and Traditional Owners maintain strong connections to their land and their ongoing participation in threatened species recovery is essential. A unique understanding of the landscape and species on their Country as well as the application of traditional management practices benefit the recovery of many species that have their strongholds on these lands.
Over 200 Indigenous rangers and Traditional Owners met to discuss threatened and culturally significant desert species and landscapes at the Species of the Desert Festival in Mulan, Western Australia in June 2019. Image: Jaana Dielenberg / Indigenous desert alliance
In June, I attended the Species of the Desert Festival along with over 200 Indigenous rangers on the Paruku Indigenous Protected Area, where the night parrot was recently discovered. It was a great honour for me to be at this event to learn from the Traditional Owners and Indigenous rangers about the cultural significances of species that occur on their Country, what habitats they occupy and what they do to protect and manage them. Ensuring there are opportunities for Indigenous ecological knowledge to inform recovery planning, and continuing to collaborate with and learn from Traditional Owners will be important to protecting many of Australia’s threatened species into the future.
Dr Sally Box
The Australian Government’s Threatened Species Commissioner
Top image: Sally Box and Simon Nally at the Species of the Desert Festival. Behind them Indigenous rangers map potential night parrot habitat on their countries.
Parasites are taking a heavy toll on the chicks of Tasmania’s endangered forty-spotted pardalote, but with a helping hand from science these tiny birds can ‘fumigate’ their own nests.
Northern Australia’s mammals have suffered catastrophic declines over the last 30 years. A major new study has found that protecting and recovering habitat by improving fire management and reducing feral cattle, horses and buffaloes is the best approach to address the crisis.
Fire is a complex, important and pervasive ingredient in the ecology of Australia. It destroys life but brings renewal. Professor John Woinarski of Charles Darwin University discusses the catastrophic losses of the 2019–20 fires, and how we can move on from mourning to action that can limit such future devastation.
Clare is a Biodiversity Field Officer with the Australian National University’s Sustainable Farms project. She tells us how she came to this role after an early life on farms in the UK, some bullet-dodging and globe-trotting.
The box gum grassy woodlands once stretched across south-eastern Australia, but have been reduced to less than 5% of their former extent. Holly Vuong speaks with Ann Kristin Raymer and Heather Keith of The Australian National University (ANU) about their new research, part of ANU’s Sustainable Farms, on developing ecosystem accounts for the woodlands to understand why this threatened ecological community is so valuable.