The project was one of six Aboriginal-led projects funded under the Wet Tropics Management Authority’s 2012-13 Small Grants Program.
Traditional Owner Rona Hart who took part in the project said that the exposure to working on country excited the Djiru people.
“How we can be working on country has given Djiru people a taste of what’s to come and has got them excited about what they can achieve on country in the future,” she said.
The work was undertaken on a block of land near Wongaling Beach, where Djiru Traditional Owners had their Native Title rights recognised. Identified as key cassowary habitat, it was vital for the revegetation process to take place. The region was also affected by Cyclone Yasi in which native coastal vegetation and cassowary habitat was damaged, allowing weeds to flourish.
“The Cassowary is very, very important to Djiru people, and if our cassowary is healthy and has enough food and places to travel safely, then that makes us feel happy that our country is healthy,” said Traditional Owner, Leonard Andy.
The revegetation project was a collaboration between the Djiru Traditional Owners and Girringun staff. It fostered positive relationships with Terrain NRM and Cassowary Coast Regional Council. The process ensured appropriate cultural and technical processes were used throughout the project.
For Djiru people it provided an opportunity for employment and training, and allowed them the chance to get back on traditional country and contribute to its health.
“My son was even exposed to the work we were doing when he came here with his class. He was really proud to be on country and part of a small change,” Ms Hart added.
The positive outcomes for both the community and the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area, illustrate the value of collaborative effort across sectors for managing significant areas in the Wet Tropics and the benefits for Aboriginal people.