KLC Media Statement, December 16, 2009
Protecting and enhancing waterways in the Kimberley is the focus of a project that teaches Indigenous Rangers and communities about river health.
The Waterways Education program was developed by the Department of Water and University WA to raise awareness of rivers in the Kimberley.
Waterways Coordinator Rob Cossart said the program looked at increasing scientific knowledge of freshwater ecosystems while boosting waterways education capacity at a community level.
“The program engages traditional owners, rangers and community groups in discussions about management of their local waterways,’’ he said.
“The delivery of the program focuses on four waterways themes; awareness, training, research and management and long-term monitoring.’’
Rangers from the Kimberley Land Council’s land and sea management unit have been involved in the project which fulfils the core requirements of their training and can be used towards completion of TAFE qualifications in Conservation and Land Management.
The project also equips rangers with the skills needed to conduct research projects for the Tropical River and Coastal Knowledge Program (TRACK).
Wunggurr Ranger Andrew Wungundin said the group had collected, identified and measured fish and water insects to determine the river health and water quality of Barnett Gorge.
“We leave the nets in the water overnight and check it first thing in the morning and usually we collect a couple of hundred small fish and insects,’’ he said.
“We take samples of the fish, a little bit of skin off the fin, so the scientists can check them to see if they have healthy parasites. If the parasites are healthy, the fish and the water are healthy.’’
Rowan Nulgit said other methods such as testing water temperature, oxygen and salt levels were also used to determine river health.
“We have tested lots of the rivers on our country and from the results they are healthy, none of our rivers are unhealthy. That is a good sign,’’ he said.