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Mamu connections with land and water.

Mamu traditional custodians have started their first rangers program – and a new water monitoring project that’s exciting both elders and the younger generation.   

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Our youth are passionate about the environment and caring for country. Why not harness that to drive things forward?

A connection to land and water runs deep in the Mamu people and it’s easy to see at the creek’s edge where, sampling poles in hand, two men fill bottles and take in the ferny, greentastic surrounds.  

“We’re all striving for one goal – to have an environment that’s not destroyed,’’ 20-year-old Rusharne Purcell says while screwing the lids on tight. “It’s so good to finally get a chance to help preserve this, and our culture.”  

He’s one of six Mamu traditional owners on a water quality monitoring trip to Henrietta Creek, west of Innisfail, where they’re sampling alongside Terrain NRM and Department of Environment and Science staff as part of a training program.  

Mamu is leading a new project in the greater Innisfail region that’ll build on existing water quality monitoring and incorporate cultural knowledge, values and concerns for water health in Mamu country. Project coordinator Francis Joyce says combining cultural knowledge with western science is a winning move, and one that traditional owners of all ages are embracing following community meetings and workshops about the project.  

“We’ll be doing monthly routine water sampling across the Johnstone catchment from its top to end of catchment, testing for things like nutrients, pesticides and suspended solids. We’ll also be monitoring impacts on the rainforest and ecosystems and looking at cultural indicators that came about through consultation with our Mamu people – things like places where there used to be yabby beds but there aren’t anymore, fish species that have disappeared from certain areas over the years…  

“The information will give everyone a snapshot of waterway health and a better understanding to move towards solutions. By working together and building partnerships we can create a more sustainable future.”    

Francis is the senior ranger in a new program for the Mamu people which began in June.  Four rangers have been appointed and they’ll be water-sampling and caring for Country on a much broader scale.   

Mamu Aboriginal Corporation’s Lorraine Maund says momentum is building, from elders through to the younger generation.  

“Our youth are passionate about the environment and caring for country. Why not harness that to drive things forward? We’re all custodians and we share and pass on our knowledge for the next generation because if the land is sick then we are sick and our people are sick. Our elders have been sharing what they’ve seen change over time. Combining their knowledge with new data, scientific evidence, we can build a bigger picture for the future.”  

The Mamu Waterway Health Planning and Management Project is funded by the partnership between the Australian Government’s Reef Trust and the Great Barrier Reef Foundation. Terrain NRM is a project partner. The Mamu Indigenous Ranger Program is funded through the Queensland Government’s Indigenous Land and Sea Rangers Program. 

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