Indigenous land and sea rangers lead work in the Daintree to protect mangrove habitats

09 August 2021

World class ecological research funded by a Japanese resources company is now in transition to the Jabalbina Land and Sea Rangers, who are keen to lead the scientific monitoring to conserve the health of mangrove forests in the Daintree.

The $450,000 research program called ‘Understanding Queensland’s Blue Carbon Resource’ is a partnership between Mitsubishi Development and Earthwatch and was established to assess the condition of wetlands and prove their value in mitigating climate change.

By collecting data in wetlands from Mackay to the Daintree, scientists are measuring the capacity of mangroves to store and sequester carbon emissions over three years and to understand the impact of wetland health on carbon sequestration. This adds to an existing 35-year data set for the Daintree, the longest mangrove forest biomass study in Australia.

In recognition of International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples, Mitsubishi Development’s Senior Vice President and Head of Business Strategy and Planning, Kenji Azuma explained an important part of the program was the opportunity to partner with Traditional Owners to support their land conservation efforts.

“Indigenous Australians are the largest private landowners and managers of Australia’s wetlands and we were delighted to have the opportunity to work on country with the Jabalbina Land and Sea Rangers in this important field work,” Mr Azuma said.

“The Jabalbina Rangers hold critical knowledge about the history of the mangrove systems in the Daintree and can add significant value to our understanding of how they have changed over time.

“Rangers are also on the ground in these locations regularly and can alert Earthwatch scientists of any concerning changes to mangrove health so they can act quickly.”

Manager of the Jabalbina Rangers John Dockrill said the Traditional Owners in the Daintree had a deep connection to land and country and participating in the program seemed to be a natural fit.

“The MangroveWatch monitoring methods and research is essential for our Rangers and allows us to continue to improve the skills required for the care of our Eastern Kuku Yalanji Yalanji Wetlands and River Systems for our Elders and future generations, Mr Dockrill said.

“Data collection and analysis allows our Rangers to tell the story of our how our Wetland, Mangrove and River system Health is at any point in time and how we can improve this with the right care of these systems.

“This work allows our Rangers to pass on this knowledge to the next generation of Junior Rangers and Local School.”

Earthwatch CEO, Cassandra Nichols said key to our work is the ability to train non-scientists in data collection methods.

“Wetlands are of significant cultural and heritage value to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and through this program we aim to equip Indigenous Ranger groups with the citizen science tools, resources and training to facilitate and enhance their participation in the blue carbon market,” Ms Nichols said.

“We are looking forward to continuing conversations with the Jabalbina Land and Sea Rangers on their leadership in the management of their lands and how these monitoring methods can support conservation of wetland habitat and gain new knowledge of its productivity in storing carbon.

“Thanks to our partner Mitsubishi Development and the Jabalbina Rangers, we have made huge gains in monitoring and increasing data to protect our blue carbon resources.”

Header image credit: MangroveWatch

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