Global Agriculture

Indigenous rangers roundtable informs future of northern Australia’s biosecurity

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13 December 2022, AU: Biosecurity and safeguarding were front of mind at the Indigenous Rangers Biosecurity roundtable in the Northern Territory.

Held on Larrakia Country, it was the first major in-person ranger event since 2019.

Indigenous Ranger organisations contracted to undertake biosecurity surveillance are generally located along the northern Australian coastline, with a focus on high-risk pathways with a potential for pest and disease incursions.

Sixty-five Indigenous Ranger groups currently work alongside the Australian Government, undertaking a range of activities including animal health checks in communities, monitoring for insects on fruit, surveillance for aquatic pests and diseases, mapping specific plant pests, community awareness education and help with scientific plant and animal health surveillance.

Deputy Secretary of Biosecurity and Compliance Dr Chris Locke said roundtable discussions were an important opportunity to plan for the future, and focussed on current and emerging biosecurity threats, the program’s current and future delivery model and grants and funding opportunities.

“The Australian Government is committed to supporting effective biosecurity across the north, which underpins not only northern development, but the protection of the whole of Australia,” Dr Locke said.

“The Indigenous Rangers are an indispensable part of this system. They bring unique and traditional knowledge and skills to biosecurity in the north.

“Indigenous Rangers combine traditional land knowledge and values with conservation training to protect and manage land, sea and culture.

“They are responsible for carrying out a variety of on-ground activities, including pest and weed control, marine debris management, surveillance and monitoring, dugong and turtle management, seagrass monitoring, cultural heritage site protection, and traditional ecological knowledge recording and management.

“Traditional knowledge coupled with modern technology makes for an outstanding ability to identify exotic pests and diseases before they get a chance to spread and establish in Australia.”

Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Murray Watt said he was proud to support the Indigenous Ranger Biosecurity Program.

“Open discussions, like we’ve seen at the roundtable, should always be encouraged to provide insights into how we can learn from the collective experience and invaluable knowledge of Country and continue to strengthen and support the Indigenous Rangers Biosecurity Program,” Minister Watt said.

“The Indigenous Ranger Biosecurity Program plays a critical role in safeguarding Australia’s biosecurity status, and I am glad for this opportunity to shape our partnership for the future.”

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