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GIS plan highlights diverse values of Roebuck Plains

A GIS Property Management Plan prepared for Roebuck Plains will contribute to sound management of the pastoral lease and provide a framework for integrating different values in the landscape for specific scenario based planning.

The Roebuck Plains fall within the Yawuru exclusive possession native title area and also are substantially within Roebuck Plains pastoral lease currently held by the Indigenous Land Corporation (ILC). The plains also contain globally-significant wetlands.

Nyambu Buru Yawuru (NBY) received Rangelands NRM funding through Caring for Our Country (CfOC) to develop a property management plan using a GIS interface. The work was undertaken as part of Yawuru’s Indigenous Protected Area Project which is looking at declaring areas outside the Yawuru Conservation Estate for protection.

Rangelands NRM Program Manager (Kimberley) Grey Mackay said the specific areas being considered for integrated management contain Yawuru cultural values, biodiversity areas and pastoral activities.

In developing the property management plan, a layer of basic pastoral values (such as cattle use, land system mapping) and infrastructure (such as roads and station tracks, gates, fences and cattle yards, paddocks, pipes, bores and watering points) together with ecological values (e.g. springs, wetlands, remnant vegetation) were overlaid with areas of use, importance and Yawuru cultural values such as significant sites, hunting areas and archaeological sites.

Additional GIS layers were developed to display some of the cultural values (such as hunting access and hunting areas) and further layers may be developed in the future.

“By mapping the various pastoral, ecological and cultural values and uses of the area, common values are identified and areas for discussion and negotiation are highlighted as well as areas for further investigation,” Mr Mackay said.

By overlaying the cultural values with known ecological values, a zone of significance has emerged  ‘the interface of pindan and saline grasslands’ which corresponds to an area of dense cultural, historical, archaeological and ecological values.

In this high cultural zone, saltwater paperbarks fringe the saline grasslands providing a corridor, shade, a habitat for birds and insects upon which lizards, goanna and turkey feed, and also a resource (for hunting, as food and for building).

In addition, the lease contains nine wetland suites that comprise a mega-scale wetland flat of global significance.

Dean Mathews,  the Yawuru Project Officer who has prepared the value maps, said they are a work in progress and are intended to be a starting point to which future information and layers can be added as they become available or as the need arises and most importantly a starting point for discussions around land use.

“This mapping process has been extremely useful to provide a starting point for negotiation with multiple users of the area, most prominently pastoral management but also for any other future land use proposals,” he said.

One of the first steps in pursuing additional information to update this map and report will be liaising with the Indigenous Land Council (ILC) to ground-truth information such as the land system map, stocking rates and seasonal use of areas.

For more information contact Grey Mackay or Dean Mathews