Freshwater springs and billabongs are central to the life of Nyul Nyul people of the Dampier Peninsula in north Western Australia. For countless generations they have been culturally significant, an important source of food, clean drinking water and serve as a place to cool off and have fun. Since the arrival of Europeans, new threats to the health of freshwater habitats have emerged including inappropriate fire regimes, grazing by feral donkeys and cattle, and introduced pest fish species. In Australia, Indigenous land and sea managers such as the Nyul Nyul Rangers are vital for managing biodiversity across the vast and sparsely populated north. The Rangers are working closely with researchers to protect the culturally and ecologically important freshwater habitats through a collaborative research project funded by the Australian Government through the National Environmental Research Program. Working together, Rangers, Traditional Owners and researchers will gather vital baseline scientific data such as fish species distribution, identify practical monitoring techniques, develop culturally appropriate data collection tools, and investigate issues of concern identified by the community. The information gathered in the first phase of the project will then inform the development of a plan for the ongoing protection and monitoring of freshwater habitats.
Christy Davies has been a Project Development Officer for I-Tracker since October 2011. Ms Davies has completed a Bachelor of Applied Science at the University of Canberra, majoring in Natural Resource Management. She has worked with the Office of the Renewable Energy Regulator, the Australian Greenhouse Office and the CRC for Freshwater Ecology at the University of Canberra. As a monitoring officer, her work focused on programs monitoring the aquatic health of freshwater systems throughout the ACT and the NSW alpine region. More recently she was a monitoring support officer for the Supervising Scientist Division, based in Kakadu National Park.