Rangelands NRM Blog, News & Resources

Collaboration continues to manage endangered Monsoon Vine Thickets

[June 2014]

The highly productive and diverse collaboration of the Kimberley Nature Project to manage the endangered Monsoon Vine Thickets (MVTs) of the Dampier Peninsula near Broome, continues into the next phase.

Ecological Projects Coordinator at Environs Kimberley Dr Malcolm Lindsay said new funding from Rangelands NRM and the Commonwealth Government will allow continued protection of the MVTs and the natural and cultural management of the patches already identified as priorities.

Environs Kimberley, with support from Rangelands NRM and the State NRM have managed many years of collaboration with the Nyul Nyul and Bardi Jawi Rangers (hosted by Kimberley Land Council), the Yawuru Rangers (hosted by Department of Parks and Wildlife), and the community volunteer group SKIPA Society for Kimberley Indigenous Plants and Animals.

With everyone’s continued input, the project gets good spatial coverage of the vine thicket’s distribution: Bardi Jawi managing the north, Nyul Nyul the middle, Yawuru the south, SKIPA the areas where no Ranger group currently occurs, and Environs Kimberley helping coordinate across all.

“We will keep building our knowledge of the vine thickets to make sure our efforts are well guided: running technical workshops, identifying knowledge gaps, inviting in researchers, searching out un-mapped patches to survey, re-mapping boundaries and weed densities,” Dr Lindsay said.

The Bardi Jawi and Nyul Nyul Rangers are continuing their fire management work, creating buffer lines across their countries to stop fires running onto vine thicket patches.

All groups are continuing weeding work to remove species such as Neem, Buffel Grass and Serratro vine, some of which create negative feedback loops with fire.

Dr Lindsay said to increase the success of our revegetation efforts, the Bardi Jawi Oorany Womens Rangers are blossoming further with their seed collection and propagation work, providing healthy seedlings to put into the holes left by the weeds.

“This work has already been helped by the community volunteers from SKIPA, a great new partnership to add onto the continuing partnership between SKIPA and Yawuru Rangers,” Dr Lindsay said.

Additionally, the group will continue increasing the local and national community’s knowledge and engagement with Vine Thickets through joint presentations to schools, local communities and scientific conferences; publications in plain English and science journals; ID guides and booklets; and by continually banging on about vine thickets on any radio or print media that will take us.

And what is this project’s greatest strength?

“Well just as the network of vine thickets are greater than the sum of its patches, the network of collaboration makes this project greater than the sum of its partners,” Dr Lindsay said.

More about Monsoon Vine Tickets (MVTs)

The MVTs are WA’s most southerly monsoonal forests, only existing so far into the semi-arid zone due to the shallow water table and dry season dew that occurs on the coastal dunes they inhabit.

MVTs are of great cultural importance, having one of the highest densities of bush tucker and medicine plants in Australia, providing shady camping spots and co-occurring with important dreaming, burial and law sites.

Ecologically they harbour close to 25 per cent of all plant species on the peninsula, despite the interconnected network of patches making up less than 0.01 per cent of its area.

Unfortunately, just like many other habitats in the Kimberley, the Monsoon Vine Thickets are under immense pressure from weeds, land clearing and inappropriate fire regimes.

Due to this pressure, they were declared Nationally Endangered in 2013, becoming the Kimberley’s only federally threatened ecosystem.

[Top left] Phil Docherty (left; SKIPA), Cissy Tegan (Bardi Jawi Oorany Womens Rangers) and Belinda Colson (SKIPA) investigating seeds of a vine thicket species (©Kylie Weatherall (SKIPA))
[Bottom right] Cissy Tegan (left; Bardi Jawi Oorany Womens Rangers) and Cherly Hamence (SKIPA) plant seeds of a vine thicket species (©Kylie Weatherall (SKIPA))