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Study tour links Arafura and Timor Seas

Representatives from Rote Island (Indonesia) and Timor-Leste visited Darwin and eastern Arnhem Land in October to meet with Indigenous groups, environmental managers and conservation professionals. Together they shared knowledge, skills and experiences related to coastal and marine management, livelihoods and biodiversity conservation.

Hosted by CDU and NAILSMA, the study tour was conducted as part of the Arafura and Timor Seas Ecosystem Action regional exchange program with funding support from the Global Environment Facility International Waters Program and the Australian Government Department of the Environment. NAILSMA has been involved in this program since 2002.

Three days of the five day workshop were spent visiting the Dhimurru Rangers and Yirralka Rangers in north-east Arnhem Land, where the hosts and participants shared their experiences and ideas on community-based resource management. The Dhimurru Rangers welcomed the group at Nhulun and took the visitors to Wurrwurrwuy to visit the Garanhan (Macassan Beach) Stone Pictures. The stone arrangements were made by Yolngu toward the end of the nineteenth century so that future generations of Yolngu would know the history of the Macassan visits.

The following day the Yirralka Rangers took the visitors to Garrthalala, a homeland that is located in the Laynhapuy Indigenous Protected Area about 160 km south of Yirrkala. The Indonesian and Timorese participants viewed freshwater areas affected by feral buffalo and discussed management plans for the control of buffalo with the rangers. They also had a chance to see some of the land and sea country of the area, travelling by either boat or troopy for the trip.

During the workshop the visitors were introduced to the NAILSMA I-Tracker program and its use by Indigenous rangers to monitor biodiversity and track ghost nets around coastal areas. They were also given a demonstration of some of the I-Tracker applications while at Garrthalala.

The participants and their Indigenous hosts spoke at length about their common interest in trepang aquaculture enterprises, which are being trialled in some north Australian Indigenous communities. They were also very interested to share and compare their experiences in the recognition of land rights that underpin the management of their own resources, and their ideas about traditional and customary community-based management.

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