The Jabalbina Yalanji Aboriginal Corporation and Jabalbina Yalanji Land Trust - who manage Indigenous land and sea programs for the islands, beaches, reefs, creek mouths, dunes and lowland rainforest of Eastern Kuku Yalanji country - are the latest organisation to add their support to the Country Needs People campaign for the growth and security of Indigenous ranger jobs and Indigenous Protected Areas.
By joining the alliance, Jabalbina has signalled their support for the call for the government to invest in the success of Indigenous land and sea management programs.
Jabalbina rangers recently proved how vital their management is for country, with the eradication of the life-sucking weed salvinia from the head waters of the East Normanby River.
Native to Brazil, Salvinia forms a dense mat - as shown here by Jabalbina Team Leader Bradley Creek - on the surface of freshwater, eventually removing fish and other aquatic species by blocking out light and deoxygenating water.
In February 2015, Jabalbina rangers discovered an infestation of salvinia in two old mining dams at Mt Poverty, on Kuku Nyungkal Country near the headwaters of the East Normanby River.
The Mt Poverty salvinia outbreak posed a serious threat to 3500 wetlands downstream, including Lakefield National Park.
Jabalbina rangers quickly notified South Cape York Catchments and Biosecurity Queensland about the outbreak and placed a boom and wire fence across the lower dam outlet to prevent salvinia being washed downstream. Initial hand removal was followed by regular chemical control and monitoring. After more than a year of control, the dams are almost free of floating salvinia.
Jabalbina Indigenous Protected Area coordinator Rowan Shee and Team Leader Bradley Creek: preventing the spread of salvinia was a crucial part of the project.
Jabalbina rangers and South Cape York Catchments plan to keep working to fully eradicate the salvinia through removal by hand, with ongoing monitoring needed into the future.
Jabalbina ranger Thomas Houghton said, “It was good to finally get on top of the salvinia after we trialled so many different methods. It’s been great that different agencies and companies have worked with us. Hopefully the next generation will get an eye for it in case it turns up again on Country. We’ll need continuous monitoring to make sure it doesn’t get into wetlands down the river.”
The project involved a strong partnership between Jabalbina, South Cape York Catchments, Biosecurity Queensland and chemical companies Macspred and Sumitomo Chemical Australia.
Jabalbina rangers have three bases and carry out work in weed control and vegetation management, fire management, revegetation, feral animal management, managing walking and vehicle tracks, junior ranger camps and activities, visitor management and patrols, monitoring land and sea, and clearing away rubbish and marine debris. That's a lot of work for just twelve rangers!
The work by Jabalbina rangers to eradicate salvinia shows how rangers can prevent extensive damage and save literally millions of dollars. It shows why we need rangers to be constantly active to monitor and respond to threats. Growing and securing Indigenous ranger and Indigenous Protected Area funding nationally is essential to support this kind of work.
Jabalbina joining the Country Needs People alliance helps to make that case stronger.
Top image: Jabalbina ranger coordinator Phillip Minniecon in the thick of the salvinia outbreak.