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Freshwater research and monitoring: Nyul Nyul Rangers

Freshwater springs and billabongs are central to the life of the Nyul Nyul people of the Dampier Peninsula in the Kimberley region of Western Australia. There are a variety of different freshwater habitats on Nyul Nyul country, and these wetlands are safe havens for many bird species such as black-winged stilts and brolgas.

The ecological health of these freshwater habitats is impacted by threats including altered fire regimes, grazing by feral donkeys and cattle, and introduced pest species such as cats and invasive fish. To address these and other threats, the Kimberley Land Council-facilitated Nyul Nyul Rangers are engaging in a collaborative research and management project on freshwater health and monitoring on Nyul Nyul country. Through funding from the Northern Australia Hub of the National Environmental Research Program (NERP), NAILSMA and researchers from The University of Western Australia and Griffith University have come together with the Nyul Nyul Rangers to explore and understand freshwater habitats.

Through this case study, the rangers gain the expertise of the collaborating research partners to improve the planning and outcomes of their freshwater management program, while the research partners gain the opportunity to learn about freshwater places from the local people, who have relied on these sites for food, clean drinking water, and spiritual fulfilment for many thousands of years. Involvement of I-Tracker staff across all phases of the research program is helping to ensure that new tools and outputs seamlessly integrate with other I-Tracker applications.

Case study outcomes will enhance the capacity of rangers to undertake ongoing monitoring in the future. Many established freshwater sampling techniques are extremely complicated or require the use of expensive equipment that is difficult to maintain and calibrate to sufficient accuracy. The research team is assessing and adapting existing techniques so that they are more practical for use by rangers who have limited facilities and resources, while NAILSMA staff are developing a dedicated I-Tracker application for freshwater monitoring to assist the rangers in collecting and managing their data. The monitoring regime being developed will also help the rangers to better assess the ecological health of freshwater habitats in response to their on-ground land management practices.

Find out more

Articles, publications and presentations

Knowledge sharing partnerships to explore and protect freshwater places

Links to other websites

NERP Northern Australia Hub project page

Nyul Nyul Rangers profile page on KLC website