WWF-Australia today welcomed an election commitment from the ALP to double the number of Indigenous rangers.
WWF-Australia spokesperson Darren Grover said it was WWF’s long-held position over the last three federal elections, that the number of Indigenous Rangers should be significantly boosted.
“A doubling of Indigenous rangers would be a real shot in the arm both for the environment and the wellbeing of traditional owner communities,” he said.
“We congratulate the Country Needs People Alliance on their strong ranger advocacy for this initiative”
Mr Grover said a recent report
, prepared for the Federal Government, found that an investment of $35.2m in Indigenous Protected Areas between the 2009-15 financial years “generated social, economic, cultural and environmental outcomes with an adjusted value of $96.5m”.
Mr Grover said there was a real opportunity in this election campaign for the main parties to fund more Indigenous Rangers, particularly on the Great Barrier Reef.
“There are very few Australian Government-funded Indigenous Rangers between Cooktown and Bundaberg.
“Nor are there many female Indigenous Rangers, or rangers with full compliance powers to protect threatened turtle and dugong along the Reef coast,” he said.
“These are gaps that really need addressing. We should be mobilizing the knowledge, enthusiasm, and commitment of Traditional Owners in a network of Indigenous Rangers along the length of the Reef,” he said.
WWF Governor Phil Rist, who is a Nywaigi man and Executive Officer of the Girringun Aboriginal Corporation, said he had seen firsthand in his community the benefits of employment in a Ranger program.
“You see a big change in people. They are proud to look after their country, to have a meaningful job. But it’s not one-way traffic. The environment benefits in a big way also,” Mr Rist said.
“Now more than ever the Reef needs its traditional owners. A lot of the Elders really believe that one of the reasons the Reef is in crisis is because the spiritual connection is really strained at the moment,” he said.
WWF-Australia Media Contact:
Mark Symons, Senior Media Officer, 0400 985 571