An aerial view of Coffs Creek, the site of rehabilitation works led by the Coffs Harbour and District Local Aboriginal Land Council through the NSW Environmental Trust.
NSW: Aboriginal groups around NSW, including seven Local Aboriginal Land Councils, have been among the biggest beneficiaries of a $1.5 million funding boost by the NSW Government to help protect environmentally important country.
The money has come from the Environmental Trust scheme, a grants program which aims to encourage groups to work towards a more sustainable future.
The Aboriginal component of that program – Protecting Our Places – seeks to preserve land that is culturally significant to Aboriginal people.
The money is also used to support education projects about the environment and its importance in Aboriginal life.
Sixteen Aboriginal sites have been identified for funding in the latest round (the second for 2011-2012), with one-third of the total pool going to Aboriginal groups.
Nine of the groups are local Aboriginal corporations – the remaining seven groups are Local Aboriginal Land Councils.
Chairman of the NSW Aboriginal Land Council, Stephen Ryan welcomed the grants, in particular the fact that Aboriginal groups received a good share of the available funding.
“Aboriginal people have been doing environmental protection work for tens of thousands of years, so this is nothing new for us,” Chairman Ryan said.
“But the problems we face today are, so it’s encouraging that the NSW Government has recognised the importance of Aboriginal people working on Aboriginal land to restore balance.
“This funding, while modest, is a good start and I urge Local Aboriginal Land Councils and other Aboriginal groups around the state to look closely at the Environmental Trust when the next round of funding arrives.
“Apart from assisting us to look after our country, it’s a potential source of employment for our people.”
NSW Environment Minister, Robyn Parker said the funding was allocated to groups who are working towards a more sustainable future.
“This money is a long term investment in our environment, protecting what we already have for future generations, encouraging new and innovative thinking around some of our current environmental problems and cultivating sustainable thinking in future generations,” Minister Parker said.
“Each year these important programs highlight the innovative thinking happening around the environment in NSW and this year has been no exception.”
The grants are part of a $6.65 million investment in environmental projects and programs across the state in 2011/12.
“These projects and the many others like them across New South Wales are making a real difference to local environments at the grass roots level,” Minister Parker said.
THE seven Local Aboriginal Land Councils involved in the projects cover the breadth of the state, from West Wyalong to Ashford, across to Coffs Harbour and down to Mogo on the South Coast.
Following are details on the LALC projects.
Ashford Local Aboriginal Land Council
3 Sisters – protection through fencing $35,000
This project will protect and rehabilitate approximately 156 acres of land between Ashford and Inverell that is of Aboriginal cultural significance and of high conservation value. Its objectives are:
• to stop illegal removal/cutting of remnant native vegetation
• to prevent illegal hunting of native animals
• to enable natural regeneration of native vegetation, and
• create awareness of the environmental and cultural importance of this area.
Batemans Bay Local Aboriginal Land Council
Restoration and rehabilitation of Hanging Rock Creek - $33,283
Hanging Rock Creek is a prominent stream in desperate need of protection from current/imminent developments including ongoing human impact.
Batemans Bay Local Aboriginal Land Council will undertake works to improve flows and restore and regenerate native flora and fauna over a period of three years, while concurrently educating the community through interpretive signage to provide both environmental and historical information to increase awareness.
The creek runs through one of twelve identified ‘Special Places’ (Eurobodalla Shire Council Heritage Study 2009).
It is an important part of the heritage of the Walbanja people and appropriate for them to lead the restoration and ongoing care.
Coffs Harbour and District Local Aboriginal Land Council
Coffs Creek restoration and interpretive bush tucker trail - $34,922
Coffs Creek is a culturally sensitive area of high significance. It is an important Aboriginal cultural gathering location, providing a travel route to the back estuarine environs, as evidenced by Aboriginal sites throughout the area, as well as providing food/medicine resources and fauna habitat.
The project will utilise local Aboriginal people to undertake weed control/bush regeneration throughout the site. This will improve the resilience of the site and its habitat value.
The project will establish a bush tucker trail that the general public can physically engage with. This will influence the Aboriginal people and educate the wider community on Aboriginal use of plants for food, medicine and other traditional uses.
The trail will connect with the Coffs Creek walkway/cycleway, a highly used prominent visitor facility within Coffs Harbour. The project will add value to the walkway, encouraging the community to engage in a healthy lifestyle and experience local Aboriginal heritage.
Deerubbin Local Aboriginal Land Council
Continuing the work at Tree on Rock - $31,460
Area surrounding the ‘Tree on Rock’ is of significant Aboriginal cultural value.
The bushland requires support to control the threat of lantana and other exotic species.
Areas of regeneration will be established, maintained and nurtured throughout the project.
An Aboriginal field team will utilise skills in site assessment, plant identification, weed removal, erosion control and vegetation maintenance.
Weeds will be treated and re-treated to reduce their presence by more than 80 percent. Established vegetation will be maintained and eroded areas stabilised. Drainage structures will be restored and monitored. Vehicle access will be controlled by the installation of a gate and fencing.
Mogo Local Aboriginal Land Council
Bringing Mogo Creek back to life: its restoration and rehabilitation - $35,000
The environmental component of the project will be conducted in two ways. One avenue is to control invasive pest species, by treating environmental and weeds of national significance in the area surrounding the creek.
The other avenue is the planting of native tube stock that will increase the biodiversity of the area as well as bolstering the amount of riparian vegetation along the creek.
These plantings will also assist in the soil stabilisation of the riparian zone along the creek.
The plants chosen for the revegetation part of the project will be of cultural significance.
These are to be bush medicine and bush tucker plant species that will be in the species list chosen for the plantings.
Signs or a brochure identifying the species of plants and their significance, highlights of where and by whom the project is being conducted, will be displayed to raise community awareness of the importance of the area and the project.
An educational component of the project is envisaged with some interpretive signage being installed to educate the wider and general community to the significance of the creek from a cultural heritage and environmental perspective.
Thungutti Local Aboriginal Land Council
Weed control and restoration work at Bellbrook LALC - $34,715
The aim of the project is to carry out weed control activities along the banks of Nulla Nulla Creek on the Aboriginal Mission at Bellbrook NSW.
The main weeds to be controlled are lantana, blackberry, cat’s claw creeper, honeysuckle and small and broad leaved privet.
The work is required as these noxious and environmental weeds (which have the potential to spread downstream) have blocked access to the creek which has significant cultural and recreational value to the local Aboriginal community.
Qualified Aboriginal contractors will carry out the weed control and planned revegetation of the treated areas.
It is planned to involve the local community in revegetation activities.
West Wyalong Local Aboriginal Land Council
Cultural aquatic values education and training (CAVEaT) - $34,578
The ‘Cultural aquatic values education and training (CAVEaT)’ project will assist in educating Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal community members in the value of aquatic environments to traditional Aboriginal people of the local area.
The project will provide training to Aboriginal community members in a range of skills including tourism operations, land management and water management.
The project will establish aquatic and wetland plants that have been identified as having a cultural value and will reintroduce vertebrate and non-vertebrate aquatic fauna to an area that local government is developing as a constructed wetland.
The Aboriginal community will conduct tours by canoe and on foot to explain the values inherent in water and the aquatic environments.