Manage locally – Protect globally. Shorebird Monitoring in Indigenous Communities



The five million migratory shorebirds in the East-Asian-Australasian Flyway face a conservation crisis with populations having declined by up to 30% since 1997, due to habitat loss. Much important shorebird habitat in Australia is on Indigenous land, particularly in remote north Australia. The growing workforce of professional Indigenous land and sea managers is well placed to play a critical role in protecting this inspiring group of birds. Crucial in the efforts to halt further global declines are accurate data on shorebird numbers and distribution. The data can be used to inform and assess local environmental management, not only to benefit shorebirds but also to improve wetland health. These goals are reflected in local community-based management plans which guide the work of Indigenous land and sea managers. BirdLife Australia has been working in partnership with the North Australian Indigenous Land and Sea Management Alliance Limited and the Indigenous Land and Sea Ranger groups of Borroloola, Mapoon, Napranum and Pormpuraaw to establish regular monitoring of shorebirds in the Gulf of Carpentaria. This Australian government (Caring for our Country) funded project includes ranger training, a custom-designed electronic identification and monitoring tool (I-tracker) and a negotiated data sharing agreement. The concept and materials behind this successful collaboration have great potential to be expanded to other Indigenous groups in Australia and overseas.

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