A commitment to contribute an additional $20 million to Indigenous rangers is a forward-thinking recognition of the inspiring environmental and community benefits rangers deliver, the Country Needs People alliance has said following WA Labor’s election promise this week.
Alliance spokesperson Sophia Walter said WA Labor’s announcement is an important foundation towards addressing conservation challenges in the state and extending the lands currently being managed.
“Extra funding for Indigenous rangers would be put to good use in Western Australia.
“Indigenous rangers are doing work that is absolutely vital for protecting our iconic landscapes, like stopping the spread of toads, monitoring and protecting sea life, limiting wildfires and fighting the spread of weeds that are choking out our iconic landscapes, but there is more work to be done over more country, including growing the number of protected areas being cared for by ranger teams.
“If we can keep country healthy it’s good for the environment, for tourism and for kids’ futures, and that’s good for all of WA.”
The benefit for Aboriginal communities is clear too.
“Indigenous ranger programs recognise the value Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures bring to land and sea management. These programs provide an opportunity and a platform from which we can honour elders and be responsible for heritage and this is good for everyone.
“Now we’re looking to the other parties to grow their support for Indigenous rangers too. More Indigenous rangers are part of creating a sustainable economic future in Western Australia,” Sophia said.
Indigenous rangers from the Kimberley to the Western Desert to the Great Western Woodlands are tackling weeds and feral animals, clearing pollution, monitoring landscapes and native wildlife, maintaining cultural sites and managing fire to promote biodiversity, at the same time as creating meaningful work that allows people to work on their ancestral country.
“There are millions upon millions of hectares of Western Australia that need management – even beyond the country that already has Indigenous rangers working on it – and we need people on the ground with the right equipment to do that,” Ms Walter said.
All eyes are now on the Liberal and National parties to see what they’ll do to recognise the success of Indigenous rangers.
There are currently 20 Indigenous ranger groups in Western Australia funded through the federal government Working on Country and Indigenous Protected Area programs.
The Country Needs People alliance includes 31 Indigenous organisations from around Australia, including nine from Western Australia, who have united to call for the growth and security of Indigenous ranger and Indigenous Protected Area programs.
Details of the WA Labor announcement can be found here.
Country Needs People is a nonpartisan campaign. We're calling for all sides of politics to invest in the success of Indigenous land and sea management programs.
Add your voice to the petition for more Indigenous rangers and Indigenous Protected Areas here.