South-west Western Australia is an internationally recognised biodiversity hotspot, containing plants and animals found nowhere else on the planet. However, a legacy of over-clearing in this area has also led to land degradation and fragmented habitat.
To restore these landscapes, our large-scale restoration work needs large amounts of viable, local, native seed. Greening Australia is collaborating with Noongar peoples to heal and manage Country, and align training, cultural connection and sustainable enterprise models with the need for seed.
The seed collection training, facilitated by Greening Australia as part of our partnership with Woodside, has been taken up by five separate Noongar Ranger organisations.
The Noongar peoples had been custodians of Country in south-west Western Australia for tens of thousands of years prior to the arrival of European settlers. Their ancient sovereignty and ancestral ties to the land were subsequently not acknowledged, understood or respected.
Past policies, including land management practices of widespread land clearing, have radically altered the environmental and cultural landscape over generations and impacted on Noongar communities’ ability to live and work on Country. This dispossession and disconnection from Country directly impacted and continues to impact the health, wellbeing and culture of Noongar peoples.
The health and wellbeing of the remaining habitat in South-west Western Australia is also under threat, particularly in our changing climate. Greening Australia aims to tackle these challenges by restoring hundreds of thousands of hectares of habitat and sequestering tonnes of carbon. One major challenge we face in restoring landscapes at such a scale is having enough quality, biodiverse seed.
By partnering with Noongar communities on seed collection, we can learn from each other to combine age-old cultural knowledge and expertise with our own landscape restoration methods. Together we can take practical steps to heal and manage the land, help it adapt to the changing climate, and create employment and economic opportunities from working on Country.
Becoming a competent seed collector can take many years. This project transfers best-practice, sustainable seed collection skills and knowledge to Noongar Ranger teams through an intensive training program and paid employment under the tutelage of highly experienced Greening Australia mentors.
Five Noongar Ranger groups are engaged in seed collection capacity building and are set to complete training by the end of 2020:
The training program provides competencies relevant to AQF Certificate II in Conservation and Land Management and identifies botanical and Noongar names of plants and the collecting of rare seeds for restoration projects.
Healing Country is intrinsically linked to Healing People. The medium to long term goal for this project is supporting continued opportunities to work on and connect to Country, supporting Noongar seed enterprises and business development with sustainable pathways for regional employment and self-determination.
This is a significant project for the Western Australian native seed market and provides a stimulus to increase the number of local service providers collecting seed for local restoration work.
Greening Australia is proud to work on this innovative project with the Noongar communities in south-west WA, as part of our partnership with Woodside. Restoring country together is reconciliation in action.
Bayden has been with Greening Australia for over ten years and has an integral knowledge of the flora in WA landscapes. His skillset is in native species identification, landscape scale restoration, native seed collection and propagation and working within the community.