Richard is a marine scientist with expertise in marine megafauna (sea lions, dugongs, turtles etc) who has worked across the government, university and consulting sectors. He has many years of on-ground experience working with Traditional Owner and Indigenous Ranger groups in the Kimberley and Northern Territory, helping to develop and manage sea country plans, carbon abatement fire management plans and economic development initiatives. Richard also spent time working on a number of commercial fishery-related projects, including field stock assessment of abalone and scallops in Western Australia.
‘Customary knowledge and novel solutions for environmental and cultural benefits’
The Nature Conservancy has established a track record in marine ecosystem restoration globally, and in particular on reviving lost shellfish habitats and their ecological function. These programs are predominantly focused on areas of historical over-harvesting and consequently are modified marine and estuarine systems with an array of ecological challenges and declining health. These communities invariably represent important cultural and ecological habitats for First Nations people throughout the world. This represents an opportunity to restore resilient marine and estuarine ecosystems with cultural benefit for biota and all of community including traditional owners, residents and visitors.
The marine environment, like its terrestrial counterpart, is facing ecological challenges, from the high seas to its coastal margins and estuaries. Habitat loss and environmental change is continuing apace with the loss of 90% of the historical shellfish reefs in temperate Australia representing one of the lesser realised impacts of colonial expansion and unsustainable resource use in the 19th and 20thcenturies. Restoration of these ecological communities and their relevance to conservation management of the Peel-Harvey Estuary will be discussed in the context of contemporary environmental management and its deeper social and cultural context with the area’s traditional owners, the Bindjareb Noongar people. We also present an overview of marine restoration programs across Australia and the opportunities for practitioner and traditional owner collaboration in facing these global threats.
Many thanks to our funding partners, Alcoa Foundation, State NRM program and Australian Government (Department of Industry, Science, Energy & Resources)