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.
Many landscapes in Australia are fire-prone, and increasingly so. Altered fire regimes can have a serious negative impact on threatened plant species and ecological communities. A Threatened Species Recovery Hub project is working to better understand the effects of different fire regimes on threatened flora in order to improve fire management strategies and conservation outcomes.
Almost a quarter of Australia’s possums and gliders are listed as threatened under Australian environmental law, and many more are showing signs of decline. Dr Rochelle Steven from The University of Queensland believes people in the community can do a lot to support conservation, especially in urban areas.
The detection and monitoring of threatened species have been a strong area of research in the National Environmental Science Program and also the two national environmental research programs which preceded it. Hub Director Professor Brendan Wintle takes a look at what we’ve been achieving and why it is so important to the conservation of Australia’s threatened species.
In 2009, the Christmas Island blue-tailed skink and Lister’s gecko were headed for imminent extinction. Parks Australia acted quickly to collect remaining wild individuals in order to establish captive breeding programs on Christmas Island and at Taronga Zoo, Sydney, which have been highly successful. A Threatened Species Recovery Hub project team is working closely with Parks Australia to help secure a future for the two lizards beyond captivity.
The silver-headed antechinus and black-tailed dusky antechinus are carnivorous marsupials found in high-elevation forests in parts of central-eastern and south-eastern Queensland. They were only described in the past six years, but they are already listed as Endangered. Knowing where they occur is essential for effective conservation, but current distribution knowledge is patchy. To address this, PhD candidate Stephane Batista in partnership with the Queensland Herbarium and Queensland Department of Environment and Science is modelling the habitat where these threatened species are likely to occur, and is using detection dogs to rapidly survey these sites.