Innovation That Matters

The Queensland Indigenous Womens Ranger Network combines traditional knowledge with scientific training | Photo source The Earthshot Prize

Leveraging the knowledge of indigenous women to protect vital ecosystems

Springwise Earthshot

Initially focused on the Great Barrier Reef, a programme combines the traditional knowledge of indigenous women with technical training

Spotted: According to archaeologists, indigenous people have inhabited Australia for at least 65,000 years, building up a body of knowledge that amounts to one of the oldest continuous civilisations on earth. Indigenous people themselves traditionally believe their ancestors have been in their country since the time of creation.

A reciprocal relationship with the land is fundamental to the way of life of indigenous communities. For example, the Yuku Baja Muliku people are the Traditional Custodians of Archer Point in North Queensland, Australia. Their lands border one of the world’s most important ecosystems: the Great Barrier Reef.

Famed for its biodiversity, the Great Barrier Reef is severely threatened by climate change. In 2022, 91 per cent of reefs surveyed on the Great Barrier Reef were affected by coral bleaching.

Now, a programme is putting local indigenous communities at the heart of the solution to this issue. Larissa Hale, a Yuku Baja Muliku woman, leads The Queensland Indigenous Womens Ranger Network, which empowers indigenous women to use their traditional knowledge while training in digital technologies, geospatial information, automation, and robotics.

This combination of technical training and traditional knowledge is vital, as Indigenous Rangers serve on the frontline of land and sea management and protection.

Other marine conservation innovations spotted by Springwise include airborne laser technology for mapping seagrass meadows, smart tech to monitor octopus fishing, and coral ‘IVF’ for repopulating damaged reefs.

Written By: Matthew Hempstead



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