To progress environmental planning, it's important to know the land, its flora and fauna. TAFE NSW Riverina Institute is involved in an interesting project and is conducting a census of local animals. This is part of a broader initiative to develop programs aimed at training Aboriginal people in ecology.
TAFE NSW Riverina Institute students are working with Dr Grainne Cleary, an ecologist from Taronga Zoo, to measure local animal populations as part of a pilot program to train indigenous students to become research rangers.
The animal census will take place at Tumut and will involve six TAFE NSW students who are currently studying the Certificate III in Conservation and Land Management. Animals will be trapped, then data will be taken on each animal before it is released, unharmed into the wild. The entire process is expected to take place over five days and four nights and students will camp out during this time.
The data collected in this census will then be compared to available information on past animal populations to determine whether the longer term trending is towards population growth or population decline.
Local indigenous knowledge of the area will also be utilised.
"We are working with Grainne to harness the traditional knowledge of Aboriginal elders about the original status of wildlife in the region so this can be compared with modern studies to identify what changes have taken place," said Aboriginal Programs Manager at Riverina Institute, Sonia Shea.
New ecosystem restoration programs will then be developed and implemented based on the data collected. This will involve the gradual elimination of pest plants and animals so that breeding programs can be prepared.
A similar census is planned for the Deniliquin and Griffith areas later in the year. If the pilot program is successful, programs be implemented for Aboriginal students to train as research rangers.