The LSMU is coordinating the delivery of a range of projects under the Environmental Management Programme and supporting strategies. All projects are delivered through a partnership approach with Torres Strait Traditional Owners, communities, all levels of government, researchers and other partners.
The Ranger Project supports the employment of Indigenous Land and Sea Rangers on outer islands to carry out cultural and natural resource management activities in line with community and Traditional Owner priorities.
- Over 45 full-time Indigenous Rangers are employed in 14 outer island communities.
- Working on Country Plans, endorsed by Traditional Owners, are in place to guide Ranger activities.
- Rangers participate in a comprehensive training program.
- Rangers are being trained to appropriately assist agencies to apply environmental legislation where required.
An Indigenous Protected Area (IPA) is an area of land or sea where Traditional Owners have entered into an agreement with the Australian Government to protect biodiversity and cultural values. Indigenous Protected Areas make up part of Australia’s National Reserve System.
- Three IPAs have been declared and are being actively managed in the Torres Strait region: Warul Kawa IPA, Pulu Islet IPA and Warraberalgal Porumalgal IPA.
- Rangers from associated communities are actively supporting the implementation of Plans of Management for all IPAs in the region.
- There is growing interest from Traditional Owners in regard to the extension of existing IPAs over marine estates, and in the declaration of new IPAs.
The Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) Project supports participating Torres Strait communities to utilise a TEK database for the collection, protection and controlled sharing of cultural and natural resource information whilst ensuring adherence to cultural protocols.
- Nine Torres Strait communities on eight islands are participating in the TEK project.
- Each participating community has a dedicated TEK database system that Rangers and Traditional Owners have been trained to use for managing their TEK.
- A knowledge guardianship kit provides advice and practical tools to ensure that TEK is accessed and protected in line with cultural protocols.
- A review of the TEK project was undertaken in early 2016 to explore how to increase the uptake of the TEK system and how to better incorporate TEK into land and sea management activities.
The Dugong and Turtle Management Project supports the sustainable take and culturally appropriate management of dugongs and marine turtles in Torres Strait in line with community based plans that integrate traditional use and contemporary science and management approaches.
- Dugong and Turtle Management Plans are in place for each outer island community.
- A Dugong and Turtle Management Plan and permitting regime for the Kaiwalagal region is under development by Traditional Owners with support from the TSRA.
- The TSRA Environmental Management Programme is now leading annual turtle nesting and hatchling surveys at index rookeries across the Torres Strait for each species that nests in the region.
- An alternate option for the humane euthanasia of marine turtles in Torres Strait
- Community involvement to understand the use of space by dugongs and green turtles in the Torres Strait
- Improving abundance estimates of dugongs and large immature and adult-sized green turtles in Western and Central Torres Strait
- Tristan Simpson,Project Manager (Sea)
The Marine Ecosystem Monitoring Project helps us to understand trends in the health of coral reef and seagrass ecosystems, and to detect negative impacts affecting these vital ecosystems.
- Four real-time weather and observing stations were installed in collaboration with the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) and communities across the Torres Strait, including Maizab Kaur (Bramble Cay), Masig Island, Saibai Island, and Tuesday Island.
- Surveys of coral reefs are completed by TSRA LSMU Rangers biannually at Ugar, Erub, Mer, Masig, Poruma and Iama.
- Surveys of intertidal seagrass meadows are completed by TSRA Rangers biannually at Mabuiag, Badu, Moa, Iama, Mer and Poruma.
The Invasive Species Management Project supports Torres Strait communities to control and manage some of the introduced plants and animals that are negatively impacting their islands. This work also helps communities to look after their islands’ natural and cultural values for future generations.
- Major weed programs are underway to control Leucaena on several islands including Mua, Boigu, Saibai, Mer and Erub and Warraber.
- 80% of Rubber Bush on Dauan has been removed.
- A Lantana control program has been undertaken on Mer and Erub.
- Invasive feral cat and rodent surveys have been conducted on 13 uninhabited islands in Torres Strait.
- Aerial surveys have been conducted for wild horses and deer on three islands.
- Torres Shire Council has been contracted to conduct wild dog, feral cat and cane toad control programs on Thursday and Horn Islands.
- Janine Buist,Project Manager (Land)
The Biodiversity Project supports the protection of the unique flora and fauna found in the Torres Strait. TSRA works with communities, Traditional Owners and scientists to undertake plant and animal surveys, and on-ground activities to protect ecosystems. TEK is also incorporated into biodiversity studies.
- Baseline biodiversity surveys have been carried out on 13 inhabited islands and more than 20 uninhabited islands.
- A Plant and Animal Book and Video has been produced for Badu Island.
- Mangrove and water quality monitoring projects have been undertaken on Boigu and Saibai.
- Seasonal calendars are under development for two islands.
The Sustainable Horticulture Project supports Torres Strait communities to increase food garden production by providing communities and individuals with technical advice to complement their traditional knowledge and customary gardening practices.
- Employment of a Regional Landcare Facilitator to coordinate project activities.
- Facilitation of workshops on outer islands to provide practical and technical demonstrations on food gardening.
- Provided guidance and assistance in the establishment of community gardens in two communities.
- Provided guidance and assistance in the development and maintenance of plant nurseries.
- Increased awareness of sustainable horticulture throughout the region through a monthly newspaper garden column and island visits.
This project informs communities and key stakeholders of the climate risks faced by the Torres Strait and what actions should be implemented to reduce these risks and build community resilience.
- Secured funds to progress the Torres Strait seawall project in partnership with TSIRC.
- Carried out assessment of coastal erosion and flood risks across the region.
- Prepared Torres Strait Climate Change Strategy 2014-2018.
- Prepared Torres Strait Regional Adaptation and Resilience Plan 2016-2021.
- Coordinated community climate change adaptation workshops.
- Climate resilient communities pilot project under development with the communities of Masig and Mer.
This project aims to facilitate increased uptake of renewable energy in the Torres Strait and to reduce the region’s carbon footprint.
- 70kW solar PV installed on TSRA buildings.
- Exploring partnership opportunities with service providers and funding bodies, including Ergon Energy, Engen Institute, DEWS, Alternative Technology Association and ARENA.
- Encouraging ARENA to undertake detailed tidal resource mapping for Torres Strait.
This project supports the employment of an Environmental Education Coordinator to lead and coordinate the development and delivery of environmental education programs within Tagai State College campuses. Through this project, Torres Strait school students will gain knowledge and understanding about important environmental concepts, and develop a greater sense of awareness and motivation to adopt environmentally sustainable ways of living.
- Environmental Education Coordinator employed by Tagai State College with funding from TSRA
- Established school camp base at Bamaga to support traditional knowledge transfer through teaching hunting, arts, crafts, cooking and dancing
- Janine Buist,Project Manager ( Land)
TSRA is in the process of developing an investment prospectus to include a suite of projects aligned with priorities in the Land and Sea Management Strategy 2016-2036. These initiatives will be delivered through a collaborative approach with Traditional Owners, communities, all levels of government, research organisations and other existing and potential partners.
- Strong foundations for future collaborative delivery of the Strategy
- Preliminary consultation with Traditional Owners in regard to their priorities and opportunities for involvement in the future delivery of land and sea management initiatives