Traditional Owners Caring for Country

For the people of the Oak Valley community, the founding of the Oak Valley Rangers in October 2018 holds acute significance. 

Undertaking specific land management activities across the Maralinga Tjarutja Lands within the Alinytjara Wilurara region of South Australia, six permanent rangers – all members of the OV community – work closely with a casual staff of 12 Anangu people.

It’s a huge achievement for all the people of Oak Valley community and Maralinga Tjarutja who always had a vision of Traditional Owners employed to manage the land that has always belonged to them.

‘Indigenous Ranger and Protected Area programs are proven success stories, not only for the health of our natural heritage but for the lives of Indigenous people,’ said Sharon Yendall, General Manager of Maralinga Tjarutja Lands, Oak Valley Community.

‘To be an OV Ranger means that the outside world has recognised that caring for country and maintaining culture is important enough to create jobs to do so. Within OV, a Ranger job is a real job, which means that there is a pathway from dependence and a chance to fulfil long-overdue responsibilities to country.’

Permanent rangers – all members of the OV community – work closely with a casual staff of 12 Anangu people

Image: Supplied

In the past 10 months since starting on-ground works, the OV Rangers have undertaken, through a mixture of overnight and day trips, multiple surveys to assess the overall health of the country with a focus on the presence of threatened and introduced species.

The Nganamara (Malleefowl) Leipoa ocellata is threatened in the region by introduced carnivorous predators: feral cats and foxes. With their extensive knowledge of country the OV Rangers monitor, check known nests and survey new areas to determine and record the impact of these species on the Nganamara population.

Elsewhere, significant on-ground land management outcomes were achieved including 1,200-2,000 hectares burnt in accordance to traditional land management practices.

The OV Rangers have worked with many different organisations and individuals, including the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, NRAW, the 10 Deserts Project and the Indigenous Desert Alliance (IDA). Not to mention the support and work of the Traditional Owners and field ecologists to identify priority works for the MT Lands.

OV Rangers won the Indigenous Land Management award at the 2019 SA Landcare Awards.

Cultural Land Management

First Nations Peoples connection to Country provides a rich source of knowledge for better land and water management, and fire management policies. With our stakeholders, Landcare Australia has made available articles, videos and other resources to help landcarers and land managers appropriately integrate First Nations Peoples knowledge and more recent knowledge, into building ecological and community resilience.

Victor Steffenson performing a Cultural Burn

Victor Steffenson performing a cultural burn for Landcare Australia’s Fire and Water: Healing Country, Healing People Video.

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