Environmental Biosecurity is rapidly emerging as an important field as Australia starts to count not only the economic impacts of weeds to agriculture but also our natural environment – particularly high-value conservation areas like our World Heritage sites.
Funded through the Australian Government’s Australian Heritage Grants 2019-20, the Conserving the natural values of K’gari (Fraser Island) project has funded the appointment of Matilda (Tilly) Davies for 12 months.
Tilly, a Butchulla descendent, graduated from Maryborough Girls’ College in Year 12 in 2018 and worked at Xavier Catholic Collage as the Aboriginal & Torres Strait Island Student Support Coordinator.
Tilly has a passion for protecting and preserving Butchulla country, its flora and fauna and lives by the first Butchulla law “what is good for the land, must come first”. She is excited to join the team and learn and contribute to caring for country.
Tilly will work with the Butchulla Land and Sea Rangers and K’gari stakeholders with a particular focus on myrtle rust. The pest has been detected on a range of culturally and ecologically significant Myrtaceae species on K’gari including Melaleucas and the Satinay. Since arriving on Australian shores in 2010, myrtle rust has already made several native species locally extinct. The full impact this disease will have on K’gari’s National and World Heritage values is at present unknown.
The Myrtle Rust story has highlighted the urgent need to safeguard K’gari by ensuring current and future biosecurity risks are identified and managed. Prevention and early intervention are the most cost-effective means of dealing with potential, new and emerging threats and this project aims to build Indigenous capacity by developing a surveillance and reporting program, training rangers and raising local awareness.
Article contributed by Tilly Davis, Butchulla Land and Sea Ranger Program