Traditional Skill Sharing to Restore Rainforest

Kathryn Dryden
December 7, 2016

Traditional Skill Sharing to Restore Rainforest

Traditional Owners from around the region learning from eachother. (WTMA)

Supported by funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program.

Over 30 Traditional Owners from across the region gathered in Babinda in October to share skills and knowledge about rainforest restoration.

This event was the first of its kind where indigenous environmental project leaders and staff came from around the region to share knowledge at a local scale.

The field day was hosted by Jaragun Pty Ltd and supported by Terrain and the Wet Tropics Management Authority (WTMA).

Jaragun took the group to two sites on Babinda Creek where they have been working with landholders, scientists, Cairns Regional Council and Terrain to restore rainforest. The aim of the project is to create habitat for wildlife, but also to improve the condition of the waterway. Jaragun has been working on these sites for close to 18 months and have been doing environmental work in the Babinda area for three years.

The first site had significant erosion and faced possible widening of the creek if it wasn’t secured. Good riparian width meant a decent scale of revegetation – about three hectares, was possible. Planting in this site was good for erosion control and stream stabilisation, and there was wonderful landholder support from Ross Mangano, whose property the site is on. The second site at Lower Babinda Creek was about connecting two remnant pieces of vegetation as a wildlife corridor.

Planting and restoration work at the two sites mimic the local remnant vegetation and focuses on maximum use of endangered species, including more than 30 species that are a food source for the Southern Cassowary. There has already been evidence of the cassowary returning to the area, after an almost twenty year absence.

Jaragun’s Liz Owen said, “The removal of invasive weeds, particularly Guinea Grass and Singapore Daisy, has provided Southern Cassowary and coastal birds access to revegetation sites that otherwise has prevented access.”

Traditional Owners had ideas to share based on experience in their own areas. Participants were particularly interested in learning how Jaragun have built working relationships with the local landholders.

Participants learned about the technical approaches that Jaragun have taken. Terrain’s Bart Dryden provided additional technical input on the day, and said, “The idea of getting together and visiting different sites was very popular among participants. Terrain and WTMA will be supporting more of these events over the coming two years.”

The positive feedback from the participants suggested that more sharing of skills and knowledge is needed: “Getting to meet new people and learn the different ideas each one has was one of the best things about the day. I believe it will increase my knowledge, and I enjoyed the inspiration it brings,” said one participant.