Local Aboriginal community learns about native vegetation
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The Wilcannia Aboriginal community is helping to improve native fish habitat in the Darling River near Wilcannia, with members involved in a short training course to learn about native plant identification, seed collection and propagation techniques, NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) Conservation Manager Aquatic Habitat Rehabilitation, David Cordina, said today.
This course was run last week by Horticulture and Indigenous Studies teacher, Scott Lillis, and organised by NSW DPI and TAFE Western NSW as part of the Wilcannia make more fish? project, funded by the Western Catchment Management Authority (WCMA).
"Plants growing on the banks of rivers are an essential part of a healthy functioning ecosystem, and have many important ecological benefits including providing vital habitat for native fish species and protection against erosion," Mr Cordina said.
"Degradation of native riparian vegetation along the Darling River is one of the key threats to native fish.
"The training helped the local community to better understand the role of native riparian vegetation in the environment and to give students the skills to help manage our natural resources in the future."
Short Course students Mark Jasper, Andy Dennis, Kiesha Walford and Gemmah Shillingsworth said the course was important to recognise the importance of the river as a life-supporting system, for all living things, including Wilcannia and other towns downstream.
"Making improvements to the river will help to make it sustainable for life and provide habitat for animals," Mr Jasper said.
"If nothing is done now, the situation will get worse and it will be very hard to reverse. Our ecosystem is very fragile and if the river dies the town and habitat dies too.
"The course gave us a better understanding of the ecosystem and the environmental impact of today’s society on native fauna and flora, which we often take for granted and overlook.
"We also learnt different methods of native seed cultivation, how to harvest, prepare and store native seed and record collection data, as well as the importance of natural flora and fauna instead of introduced species."
Mr Cordina said NSW DPI recognises that Aboriginal communities have a strong connection to the environment.
"Having now received this training, the department hopes to be able to engage these students in the future to help plant trees grown from the seed collected during the course to improve the health of the Darling River," he said.
Media contact: Sarah McGregor 0427 075 167