Lama Lama Rangers worked with the North Australian Indigenous Land and Sea Management Alliance and South Cape York Catchments to develop an effective method of monitoring wetlands on Lama Lama Country, that could be utilised by other organisations and ranger groups undertaking similar work.

The project started in 2009 with minor surveys at Antulpa (Bull Swamp), Waymuwa (Goose Swamp), Bassani Swamp, Scrubby Lagoon, Beach Swamp, Alligator Hole and Fish Camp. Each area is different in size and vegetation and have different unique locations. Most wetlands on our Country are very sacred to us – as cultural places, places of significance used by earlier generations for camping when travelling up and down the coast, and temporary camps for water and fishing areas.

Each of the sites have monitoring points which are visited twice a year, once before wet season and once after wet season. We follow the same assessment methods at each visit. Over time, issues with the water quality and wetland health have been identified:

  • Seasonal fluctuations in water quality, impacting the availability of bush-tucker (food) and fibre for cultural practices.
  • Degradation issues and impacts:
    • Erosion (from feral animals)
    • Soil degradation
    • Pollution
    • Increased damage to vegetation from illegal access
    • Introduction of pest weeds
    • Decrease in native animal activity
    • Impacts of fire.

To manage these issues, we have developed strategies to work towards restoring the wetlands, increasing the biodiversity present in each area and protecting and conserving their natural values. Our work includes:

  1. Developing the Rapid Wetlands Assessment Tool with NAILSMA and SCYC, which is now being used by other groups around Cape York to monitor the health of their wetlands.
  2. Implementing work plans to fence major wetlands, such as Bassani Swamp and Fish Camp, to exclude cattle and pigs – preventing damage and degradation; and to fence bigger areas such as Antulpa, Waymuwa, and Scrubby Lagoon.
  3. Establishing guidelines with local council for the maintenance of the roads near significant wetlands so as not to damage the natural values of the area.
  4. Undertaking regular monitoring and education to enhance awareness of the biodiversity of these areas.
  5. Building partnerships with research organisations to establish broader scientific facts about biodiversity and natural values within each wetland, that complement our existing Indigenous knowledge.
  6. Patrolling to maintain compliance practices on Country, to protect and conserve these areas.