The Indigenous Desert Alliance (IDA) took up the challenge of staying connected but being apart during COVID-19 restrictions, by holding its first major online event – the Southern Desert Ranger Forum (SDRF).
The SDRF is a capacity building event for Indigenous rangers and land managers from the southern deserts of Australia. The annual forum enables Indigenous rangers to come together to exchange skills and knowledge, build relationships and to promote the profile of Indigenous rangers.
The forum, held over three days in August via Zoom, was a great success with 20 ranger groups and 60 rangers participating in a diverse program which included sessions on:
- feral cat management
- fire management
- mental health for rangers
- ranger presentations
- buffel grass
Minister for Indigenous Australians, the Hon. Ken Wyatt addressed the forum on day one; with the Hon. Ben Wyatt MLA, Western Australian Minister for Aboriginal Affairs joining the rangers on day two. He spoke about the success of the WA Government’s ranger program and his support for the cultural outcomes of ranger work. Dr Sally Box, Threatened Species Commissioner, also joined the rangers on day two and discussed the new threatened species strategy, bushfire recovery projects and Indigenous fire management.
The fire management session featured presentations from rangers, on their recent cultural burning and fire operations which incorporated both traditional and modern approaches to burning.
Gareth Catt, fire officer 10 Deserts Project, used the seasonal fire management poster (see below) to start the group discussion about
the size and scale of fires in the desert over the past few years. He highlighted the fact that a number of hot season wildfires had burned across much greater areas of the Australian desert in comparison to the east coast wildfires which made global headlines in early 2020, but due to remoteness, received little attention.
The IDA are now planning their annual conference to be held in Perth 10-12 November. With the success of groups participating in the SDRF via Zoom, the IDA team will be incorporating online participation as a key part of the conference for groups who will be unable to travel due to ongoing Covid-19 restrictions.
If you would like any further information on the IDA Southern Desert Ranger Forum, or the upcoming Annual IDA Conference contact Emmanuel Hondros, IDA coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org
Words and images courtesy of the IDA