Community Weeds Project
The Crocodile Islands Rangers have been running a project to change community behaviours towards weeds, supported by funding from the Australian Goverment’s Biodiversity Fund.
Weeds are not from our country. They are plants that don’t belong and are harmful to our native plants and animals. When we started to do work on weeds we realised we didn’t have a Yolngu word to describe them, as our language only had words for plants that belonged – were always here. The closest words we could find were “Yätjkurr wurrki”, which simply means “bad flowering plants”. However this word doesn’t include the other types of weeds, like grasses, trees, vines, and so on. So to overcome this we have introduced the word “weeds” to the community.
As there are so many islands throughout our patrol area, and it is difficult for us to get to all the islands, we decided to spend a lot of effort educating the community about weeds so that everyone could help find, monitor and kill them, as well as to prevent them spreading to new places.
To increase the community knowledge about weeds and work towards behaviour change, we have undertaken many different activities. We made posters, signs, a song, and a movie that is played in our shop. We did lots of community education in the different camp groups, outstation communities, as well as the school. We also made a live weed exhibit, to attract interest from the community and to encourage people to look and learn.
- Be able to identify weeds
- Destroy weeds themselves
- Tell rangers if they see weeds
Although there is still a lot more work to do to remove weeds from Milingimbi and the other islands, so far the project has been a success. We know of several occasions where people have removed weeds on their own accord after our education. In particular, since this project began, we have not seen any more signs of snakeweed on either Milingimbi or Murrungga Islands.