Rangelands NRM Blog, News & Resources

New educational resources to protect the West Kimberley coast

[March 2013]

The West Kimberley Nature Project (WKNP) have developed three educational resources that will be used to help protect significant coastal areas in the West Kimberley region.

The resources include a community-based publication, signage and information to support improved knowledge and understanding about the endangered and culturally significant monsoon vine thicket on the Dampier Peninsula, and interpretive signage for six ecologically and culturally important coastal sites from 80 mile beach to Gourden Bay.

The resources have been created in collaboration with Traditional Owners, Indigenous ranger groups and other key partners.

The community-based publication; ‘Plant Stories’ created in collaboration by the Society for Kimberley Indigenous Plants and Animals (SKIPA), the Bardi Jawi Oorany Rangers (women rangers) and WKNP contains Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) about some of the important monsoon vine thicket plants within Bardi Jawi Country.

Environs Kimberley Projects Coordinator, Louise Beames said the booklet described where and when the plants grow, the relationships to the Bardi seasonal calendar, germination cues, fruiting and flowering and some Traditional uses as well as language names for plants, fruits and animals that utilise these plants.

Monsoon vine thickets contain many of fruits, medicines and tools that are important in Bardi culture and for many Indigenous groups along the Dampier Peninsula coast.

“The Bardi Jawi Oorany rangers used the term ‘Boonyja bardag gorna’ in the booklet to describe how all these bush fruit trees are useful; for fruit and medicine,” Ms Beames said.

Within the booklet the rangers described how important it is to document and share this Traditional Knowledge within their community.

“We know our country. It is important that we record and share our Traditional and practical knowledge and keep it alive within our communities. We want our young people to know and protect country and keep it healthy.” (Plant Stories)

In another part of the Dampier peninsula at Middle Lagoon, Environs Kimberley have also been working with the Nyul Nyul Rangers to protect and manage a number of important monsoon vine thicket patches.

In consultation with the Nyul Nyul Rangers, their steering committee, elders and the local community, an eco-cultural interpretive sign and information sheet have been developed to encourage an understanding of the cultural and environmental significance of the area and guide users to minimise their impact.

One site had become degraded due to increased tourist traffic and off-road driving through the dunes. As part of WKNP, the dune has now been fenced off and natural restoration is being assisted through weed control activities.

Funding for this sign and brochures was supported through the Kimberley Land Council/WWF Coastal Tourism Project.

A third resource has been developed and located in Karajarri Country. Educational signs which identify and describe important cultural and ecological information have been placed at six coastal sites that are experiencing high levels of usage.

It is intended that these signs will also guide both visitors and locals to minimise the impact of their visit and help them to understand and respect the Traditional country they are visiting.

This signage was developed by WKNP in conjunction with WWF-Australia, the Kimberley Land Council, Karajarri Rangers and the Karajarri Traditional Lands Association. Funding for this signage was supported through the Kimberley Land Council/WWF Coastal Tourism Project and the Department of Environment and Conservation.

Eco-cultural threats to the sites include over-fishing, collecting and removing shells, littering, causing wild fires, disturbing cultural sites and driving over turtle nests.

The West Kimberley Nature Project is managed by Environs Kimberley and funded by Rangelands NRM WA through Caring for our Country.

For more information, contact Louise Beames at Environs Kimberley.