Aboriginal rangers are one of the largest conservation workforces in Australia, managing over 9% of Australia’s landmass. Most of this area is extremely remote, making it difficult for rangers to visit and monitor significant biodiverse and cultural sites, and effectively plan, evaluate and adapt conservation management activities and maintain strong cultural connections.
Environs Kimberley, Karajarri Traditional Land Association and consultant Walker Services have formed a project, Pirra pani pijarra: Desert eyes and ears, to use cutting-edge technology to improve the quality and increase the quantity of data Aboriginal rangers can use in their conservation and cultural land management.
The project has received seed funding through the 2018 Australia Google.org Impact Challenge, a funding competition to support organisations creating a better future through technology.
The project aims to:
- Increase the quantity of data collected from remote sites by linking monitoring equipment (e.g. camera traps, weather stations) to the Karajarri Ranger base
- Improve the quality of the insights gained from data, through analysis and sorting by computer-learning algorithms
- Inform Ranger management decisions using insights gained from the data
- Maintain and increase Karajarri connection to country, through an immersive space with sights and sounds from remote sites, and to share their knowledge with the wider community.
Although the Desert eyes and ears project will focus on the Karajarri Indigenous Protected Area in the Great Sandy Desert, the project plans to extend the technology and framework to other Aboriginal Rangers groups and land managers in Australia.