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 55 full-time Indigenous Rangers are employed in 14 outer island communities across 13 islands.
- Working on Country Plans, endorsed by Traditional Owners, are in place to guide Ranger activities. Rangers carry out a variety of on-ground activities, including pest and weed control, marine debris management, surveillance and monitoring, dugong and turtle management, seagrass monitoring, cultural heritage site protection, education and traditional ecological knowledge recording and management.
- Rangers participate in a comprehensive training program.
- Rangers are being trained to appropriately assist agencies to apply environmental legislation where required.
- Rangers are undergoing training to develop compliance capabilities and have undertaken training to detect, report, evaluate and gather evidence on non-compliant behaviour on outer islands including fisheries offences, Torres Strait Treaty breaches and suspected illegal activity
- Ranger compliance patrols are undertaken regularly since the compliance management unit was developed in January 2018.
- Torres Strait Ranger Program: From Humble Beginnings
- Torres Strait Rangers: Near Western Cluster
- Torres Strait Rangers: Eastern Cluster
- Torres Strait Rangers: Central Cluster
- Torres Strait Rangers: Top Western Cluster
- Torres Strait Ranger Program
- Ranger Achievements Booklet 2015
- Ranger Achievements Booklet 2017
- Ranger Achievements Book 2018
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 Indigenous Protected Areas (IPAs) have been declared and are being actively managed in the Torres Strait region: Ugul Malu Kawal, 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.
- The TEK project now operates traditional knowledge database systems across 11 communities (over 10 islands) in the Torres Strait.
- Each participating community has a dedicated TEK database system that Rangers and Traditional Owners have been trained to use for managing their TEK.
- The TSRA TEK team are currently working with Traditional Owners from Torres Strait communities to develop resources that help communities to promote the publicly available traditional knowledge to ensure it is passed onto future generations. The TEK team are currently working with community to develop Seasonal Calendar posters and booklets for four Torres Strait communities of Erub, Saibai, Masig and Mer.
- TEK is being better incorporated into land and sea management activities.
- The Masig Seasonal Calendar was launched in 2018 The Calendar poster and booklet was a collaboration with local Traditional Owners, the TSRA TEK team, Masigalgal Rangers and Masigalgal RNTBC (PBC) to promote traditional knowledge for their land and sea country and to help with the community’s aspirations to preserve the Kulkulgau Ya language of Masig and the Torres Strait Central Islands.
- If you are a Torres Strait Islander looking to find out if your home islands has a TEK System, please email the TSRA TEK team to find out how to join TSRA TEK Team.
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 being finalised in 2019 for each outer island community and will include management arrangements and specific implementation activities.
- A Dugong and Turtle Management Plan for the Kaiwalagal region is under development by Traditional Owners with support from the TSRA.
- The TSRA Environmental Management Program is now leading annual turtle nesting and hatchling surveys at index rookeries across the Torres Strait for each species that nests in the region.
- Rangers have a significant role to monitor and record turtle breeding and foraging activity.
- 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
- Moni Carlisle 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.
- Six real-time weather and observing stations have been installed in collaboration with the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) and communities across the Torres Strait, including Maizab Kaur (Bramble Cay), Masig, Saibai, Badu, Thursday and Tuesday Islands. Fourteen sea water temperature monitoring loggers are deployed across the region.
- A Reef Scanner towed video method will be trialled in a partnership between TSRA and AIMS to enhance the capacity of Rangers from Ugar, Erub, Mer, Masig, Poruma and Iama Islands to more effectively obtain important information about the status and health of coral reefs.
- Biannual surveys of intertidal and sub-tidal seagrass meadows are completed by Rangers from the islands of Mabuiag, Badu, Moa, Iama, Mer, Poruma and Warraber across their nearby waters and reefs.
The Biosecurity and 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.
- Negotiations are underway with the Moa community to tackle wild horses on Moa.
- Torres Shire Council has been contracted to conduct wild dog, feral cat and cane toad control programs on Thursday and Horn Islands.
- Biosecurity emergency management training underway that will provide skills to nominated rangers to contain an incursion and prevent the spread of pests, weeds or disease.
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 Badu, Moa, Boigu and Saibai.
- Biodiversity survey carried out on Dauan.
- Working with BirdLife Australia to monitor native and migratory birds on inner and outer islands.
- Working with the TEK team to facilitate development of Seasonal Ecological Knowledge Calendars for Saibai, Masig, Mer and Erub.
- Sustainable Land Use Plans – Overview
- Profile for Management of the Habitats and Related Ecological and Cultural Values of Poruma Island
- Profile for Management of the Habitats and Related Ecological and Cultural Values Warraber
- Profile for Management of the Habitats and Related Ecological and Cultural Values Ugar
- Profile for Management of the Habitats and Related Ecological and Cultural Values Saibai
- LSMU Environmental Management Biodiversity - Masig Group
- Janine Buist Project Manager (Land)
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.
- 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.
- Agriculture systems have been adapted to significant changes in climate and market demands.
- Aquaponics system was set up on Badu.
- Celebrations for national tree day conducted on Badu, Warraber and Masig.
- Rangers have worked with schools to install portable wicking beds.
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.
- Established the Torres Strait regional coordination group to drive high level implementation of adaptation and resilience actions.
- Monitoring local temperature and humidity to assess heat risks to communities.
- Continued implementation of actions in the Torres Strait Regional Adaptation and Resilience Plan 2016-2021.
- Community shade tree project initiated through the Sustainable Horticulture Project.
- Climate resilient communities pilot project with the communities of Masig and Mer.
- School campuses supplied with weather stations and improved network of professional weather stations.
- Emergency information dashboard established
- Shipping risk forums and field exercises completed with AMSA and MSQ.
- Climate Change Heat Risk Assessment Report completed.
- Climate Change impacts on marine ecosystems and Fisheries technical workshop.
- Climate Change impacts on island ecosystems workshop.
- Regional Sustainable Waste Management Workshop.
- Torres Strait Extreme Water Level Study - July 2011
- Torres Strait Climate Change Strategy 2014-2018
- Torres Strait Regional Adaptation and Resilience Plan
- Torres Strait Climate Change and Health - First Pass Risk Assessment
- Observed and Future Climates of the Torres Strait - 2010
This project aims to facilitate increased uptake of renewable energy in the Torres Strait and to reduce the region’s carbon footprint.
- Solar arrays installed at Masig desalination plant and Mer guesthouse
- Small scale bio-digester trials on three communities
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
- Biosecurity education has been implemented in school curriculums
- Schools now have sustainable horticulture programs
- Biosecurity games have been created for educational purposes.
TSRA has developed an Indigenous Land and Sea Management Partnership Investment Prospectus to guide and help secure ongoing investment in priority land and sea management initiatives in the Torres Strait. These initiatives will be delivered through a collaborative approach with sponsors, 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
- Investment prospectus prepared as a basis for negotiations with potential partners to address ongoing shared environmental management priorities for the region.
- TSRA Land and Sea Strategy 2016-2036 Pamphlet
- LSMU Management Success Framework
- Torres Strait Indigenous Land and Sea Management Partnership Investment Prospectus
- Miya Isherwood Strategic Policy & Planning
The TSRA is building the capacity of Traditional Owners to play a lead role in managing their islands and sea country, including through the development of compliance capabilities within the organisation. A compliance management unit has been established within TSRA, and Rangers have been trained to undertake certain environmental and fisheries related compliance responsibilities in the region in partnership with other regulatory agencies, including through the delegation of inspector powers.
- Development of a Compliance Program and Unit
- In 2017 the TSRA received funding through the National Capacity Building for Indigenous Rangers Strategy (CBIRS) to design, develop and implement a fully integrated compliance program and unit. In 2018 the unit (based on Thursday Island) became operational with three full-time staff supporting in excess of 14 Ranger Groups across the Torres Strait.
- The Compliance Management Unit (CMU) provides centralised management of all specialist compliance management processes and systems. It will include an operations control centre with all of the appropriate resources to receive, analyse and disseminate information and direct field operations.
- The TSRA’s compliance management capacity will be developed over time through a carefully planned and staged process. This will ensure that the skills and resource requirements for a professional, quality operation are properly developed, providing an effective ‘network’ between communities, Rangers and regulatory agencies.
- Rangers supporting community-based plans and regulatory agencies
- In developing compliance management capacity, TSRA will not assume primary responsibility for any of the functions of the regulatory agencies operating in the region - rather it plans to support the agencies fulfil their legislative obligations.
- Rangers and compliance staff work closely with regulatory agencies in the Torres Strait in order to protect this unique area.
- An important aspect of the compliance program is supporting communities though traditional governance structures to implement cultural and traditional lore practices in relation to compliance. This way ‘Lore’ and ‘Ailan Kastom’ is not only recognised but integrated into all compliance decision making processes and treatments.
- Training and development
- Rangers have completed formal and nationally recognised Certificate IV in Regulatory Compliance training equipping them with both theoretical and operational knowledge and skills to undertake compliance activities.
- As part of the Compliance Unit’s commitment to fostering and delivering a safe and competent program, Rangers will lead and undertake field operations and participate in ongoing practical compliance training including note taking, intelligence gathering, photographing suspicious activities, report writing and evidence gathering.
- The Compliance Management Unit will continue to support Rangers through a consolidated Compliance Training and Development Strategy and Plan.
- Rangers delegated with regulatory powers
- A focus of this program is operationalising a compliance management program that will provide support to regulatory agencies with responsibilities in the region. This has been very successful to date with Rangers and CMU staff undertaking numerous patrols with regulatory agencies and government departments in and around the Torres Strait region.
- Rangers and compliance management staff are undergoing specialised training and possess relevant qualifications to undertake compliance management functions, which will include being endorsed under specific legislation as authorised officers.
- Paul Cochran Compliance Project Manager