The Kimberley Wetlands Project (KWP) was a joint Environs Kimberley, National Environmental Science Program (NESP) and Kimberley Ranger Network initiative to build knowledge and strategies for looking after wetlands. It enabled EK and The University of Western Australia (UWA) to support seven Ranger teams over several years.


Kimberley wetlands, or freshwater places, are central to the worlds of Aboriginal people and play a vital conservation role. Kimberley Traditional Owners are committed to looking after freshwater places, including through their ranger programs.

Many Kimberley Traditional Owner groups organise ranger on-country work using Healthy Country Planning (HCP), a type of adaptive management. HCP provides a guide for Traditional Owners to decide and plan what to look after on their Country, conduct management, and review their work and successes.


The KWP involved Bardi Jawi, Bunuba, Gooniyandi, Karajarri, Ngurrara, Nyul Nyul and Yawuru, each group needing different support as they progressed through the HCP cycle for wetlands. 

Bardi Jawi

The Bardi Jawi Rangers developed a traditional oola (freshwater) place monitoring program based on Bardi Jawi ways of understanding wetlands and their health. KWP staff helped the Bardi Jawi Rangers, Traditional Owners and Elders to set up, trial, and then implement monitoring at three traditional oola places. Posters were developed to describe the monitoring at each site and provide a 'report card' summary of monitoring for each year.

This project was also supported by a UWA Research Collaboration Award.


KWP staff helped the Bunuba Rangers visit garuwa (freshwater) places along Bandaralngarri Fitzroy River to collect baseline data to prioritise wetland work. At each wetland, the team recorded Bunuba and conservation-related values, threats and impacts, and took eDNA samples to help understand animal use. KWP staff also worked with the Rangers and their Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions (DBCA) partners to develop a detailed weed management plan for Bunuba Country, including individual plans for seven sites chosen by Bunuba.

Work to develop a detailed weed management plan for Bunuba Country was commissioned by DBCA as a part of their Joint Management arrangements.


The Gooniyandi Rangers wanted to gather information from their Country to prioritise future wetland work. KWP staff helped the Rangers develop a baseline data collection form and use sensor cameras and eDNA to understand animal use at freshwater places.

Through the KWP, the Gooniyandi Rangers also fenced a significant wetland in the Mueller Ranges. Spanning around 300m, the fence excludes cattle from the wetland formed in a gorge of the Range. As their monitoring, the Rangers have set up cameras to take one photo per day for one year, to create a timelapse video of seasonal vegetation changes within the fenced area.


For Karajarri, the KWP began with a review of their past wetland work and development of a baseline data collection form based on scientific and Karajarri knowledge systems.

Karajarri then carried out a program of visiting wetlands, some very remote, with support from KWP and Traditional Owners (Karajarri Elders). Karajarri Rangers collected baseline data using the form, measured water quality and took eDNA samples. Traditional Owners and Rangers were able to revitalise some freshwater places that had not been visited for some time.

KWP staff also supported an important and rewarding trip to the remote Kurriji pa Yajula (Dragon Tree Soak).

The visit to Kurriji pa Yajula involved multiple Traditional Owner, and and Ranger groups and partners with the DBCA a major funder and supporter of this visit.


With support from KWP staff, Ngurrara embarked on a program to conduct multiple on-Country trips to visit wetlands – including many remote jila (living waters) – allowing Ngurrara Elders to re-connect with places that hadn't been visited for years. A baseline data collection form was developed to complete during these trips, documenting Ngurrara knowledge, plants and animals found around jila, and water quality (pH and conductivity). A trial rapid biodiversity assessment using eDNA sampling was also done.

Work with the Ngurrara Rangers also happened under a WA State Natural Resource Management grant.

Nyul Nyul

The Nyul Nyul Rangers had monitored wetlands on their Country for around a decade. KWP staff helped to compile and analyse the extensive data set, and produce posters to communicate the findings.

Findings from their monitoring program have helped the Nyul Nyul Rangers understand and communicate the impacts of uncontrolled fires and feral animals on wetlands, and how wetlands respond to fencing and to seasonal changes more generally.


The KWP has supported the Yawuru Country Managers to build on a long term wetland (bilarra) vegetation monitoring program developed in partnership with the NESP. The monitoring is designed to show the effectiveness of management like fencing and help inform how to sustainably graze on the Roebuck Plains Station.

KWP staff have helped the Country Managers to conduct several monitoring rounds, develop plant identification resources for use during monitoring and streamline analysis and reporting tools to assist Yawuru in communicating their findings with Traditional Owners and the Yawuru Technical Advisory Group.

Knowledge sharing 

The Kimberley Wetland Project offered an opportunity for ranger teams to learn from each others’ wetland work and monitoring during a three-day workshop held at the Broome Bird Observatory. Along with presentations, group discussions and monitoring tool demonstrations, the Yawuru Country Managers also took us all to Lake Campion to demonstrate their wetland fencing and vegetation transect monitoring. 


Kimberley Wetland Project final report and toolbox (in preparation)


Bardi Jawi Rangers logo  Bunuba Rangers logo Bunuba Dawangarri Aboriginal Corporation logo Department of Biodiversity Conservation and Attractions logo  Gooniyandi Rangers logo   Gooniyandi Aboriginal Corporation logo  Kimberley Land Council logo Karajarri Rangers logo  Karajarri Traditional Lands Association logo  Ngurrara Rangers logo  Yanunijarra Aboriginal Corporation logo  Nyul Nyul Rangers logo Yawuru Country Managers logo  

The University of Western Australia logo  NESP Resilient Landscapes logo

The Bardi Jawi, Gooniyandi and Nyul Nyul Rangers are managed and supported by the Kimberley Land Council.


Lotterywest logoState Natural Resource Management Program WA logo

Environs Kimberley, along with the University of Western Australia and NESP Resilient Landscapes Hub, secured funding through Lotterywest for this three-year project.

Links to interviews and media

Monitoring traditional oola (freshwater) places on Bardi Jawi Country, Strengthening resilience to threatening processes and extreme events, NESP Landscapes

That's the ticket [video], WAs unique North-west landscape, Lotterywest

For more information, contact

Kimberley Nature Project ([email protected]

Banner: Monique Middleton filtering water sample (Yiramalay Crossing). Photo: Matt Macdonald