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Giant green animals spring from the land

The 300m goanna emerging under the shadow of the Stirling Ranges. The seeding lines will soon be planted with trees and shrubs. Photo: Peter Banyard, Airborne Mapping & Photography Services. The 300m goanna emerging under the shadow of the Stirling Ranges. The seeding lines will soon be planted with trees and shrubs. Photo: Peter Banyard, Airborne Mapping & Photography Services.

Giant animals which will soon be planted with trees and shrubs are bringing life back to Gondwana Link landscapes, Western Australia, with a 300m long goanna emerging from the ground under the shadow of the Stirling Range National Park’s mountains.

Greening Australia is working with the Nowanup Rangers to restore the Gondwana Link landscapes and heal country in a unique eco-cultural project funded by the Western Australian Government under the State NRM Program and supported by Royalties for Regions.

For over 15 years Greening Australia has been working with other environmental groups to restore the central area of the Gondwana Link. Noongar designs were first incorporated into the restoration at Nowanup in 2015 by Threshold Environmental and Noongar leader Eugene Eades.

“Landscapes don’t exist in isolation, for millennia Noongar people have lived with wildlife, and found a good balance. That’s why it’s so important that the wisdom, skills, and culture of the Noongar Rangers from Nowanup are an integral part of the restoration process, and etching large symbolic species into the landscape is a beautiful way of recognising this,” said Gondwana Link Director, Keith Bradby.

“The eco-cultural restoration approach recognises the connection between the indigenous community, fauna and flora and landscape, and goes back many thousands of years. For the region to be brought back to health, science and culture need to work together,” Greening Australia’s Barry Heydenrych said.

Tractor lines marking out the 200m long kangaroo at Peniup which will be hand planted. Photo: Peter Banyard, Airborne Mapping & Photography Services. Tractor lines marking out the 200m long kangaroo at Peniup which will be hand planted. Photo: Peter Banyard, Airborne Mapping & Photography Services.

So how do you design and build a 300m long goanna?

Noongar Elders visited three Greening Australia properties in the Autumn of 2017 to look at different sites and consider designs.  A 300 metre long goanna was chosen for Yarrabee, a 200m long Malleefowl and circle design would be established at Nowanup, and a 200m long kangaroo was elected to be created at Peniup.

Noongar artist Errol Eades was given the task of designing the animals and shapes, and then with Gondwana Link and Greening Australia staff, Eugene Eades selected the trees and shrubs to reflect the project’s artistic and cultural vision.

Gondwana Links’ Amanda Keesing used mapping software to convert the designs into GPS outlines for Greening Australia restoration officer Glen Steven to imprint on the landscape with his tractor.

Nowanup Rangers stand alongside the tractor lines which mark out the planting area. Photo: Peter Banyard, Airborne Mapping & Photography Services. Nowanup Rangers stand alongside the tractor lines which mark out the planting area. Photo: Peter Banyard, Airborne Mapping & Photography Services.

The Nowanup Rangers, are now planting thousands of seedlings in the designs to bring the animals to life, with drones being used to document the creatures as they emerge from the ground.

The planting project provides valuable recognition of the importance of Noongar culture across landscapes and is providing cultural healing and valuable employment opportunities.

While the focus is on cultural planting, native species are being used, reconnecting habitat so wildlife can move between the region’s national parks, to help ensure the survival of endangered species such as the Carnaby’s Black Cockatoo.

Noongar Leader Eugene Eades has been involved with landscape restoration for many years and feels the old people urging him to grow the connection to country.

“The country is our life blood, it provides rights of passage for our young people and the native animals are woven into our story.

“Young Noongar people will become the custodians of country and the work we are doing is connecting two cultures on one land, two stories are to be told, science and tradition working to heal.