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Study of the indigenous marine habitats

Mapping of indigenous values and knowledge of sea country.

Australia’s tropical marine research agency (AIMS) staff together with Teresa Lui Yuen, Eni Environmental Advisor, ran a participatory habitat mapping workshop with Traditional Owners (TOs) and Indigenous Rangers from the Thamarrurr region in Wadeye.

The main goal of this project, which culminated in the workshop of 28 November 2018, was to involve at least three indigenous rangers. The high attendance demonstrates the tribes of Thamarrurr have an interest in generating an electronic record of the habitats in their sea country. The high participation rate by local TOs is a direct result of the effort the Thamarrurr Rangers put into communicating the relevance of the workshop to the wider community in the Thamarrurr region.


The seminar dealt with explaining how the knowledge shared by the TOs and rangers would be used to create a map of marine habitats. The explanation by AIMS was then translated into one of the local languages by a member of the Thamarrurr Development Council. The TOs and Rangers who participated in the workshop represented three different language groups, Murrinhpatha, Marri Amu and Marri Tjevin. After the language discussion, the TOs and Rangers started the participatory mapping exercise. The larger group separated into five different groups based on their homeland.

After this additional mapping exercise with the Rangers was completed, AIMS and Eni staff travelled with five Rangers to the old mission to conduct the mapping exercise with TOs from this area who were unable to attend the workshop held in Wadeye. This exercise was followed by a tour of the coastal area near the old mission to allow the Rangers to show areas where there was an encroachment of sand into woodland areas and a decline in mangroves. AIMS is proposing a desktop study of remote sensing images to assess the decline in mangroves in the Thamarrurr area.

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