Indigenous Land and Sea Ranger program

Through the Queensland Indigenous Land and Sea Ranger Program, the Queensland Government partners with Indigenous communities to care for land and sea country, provide jobs and training and engage future generations.

The $11M per annum program, administered by the Department of Environment and Science (DES), assists Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations with grants to employ Indigenous Land and Sea ranger teams. It delivers training, networking and partnership support for ranger groups.

Rangers work in regional and remote communities across Queensland with groups based in twenty three locations.

Indigenous Land and Sea rangers deliver negotiated work plans that reflect Traditional Owner, local community, and Queensland Government priorities. Their activities include a wide range of environmental and cultural heritage conservation and community engagement activities.

Conservation work can include feral animal and pest plant control, soil conservation, cultural heritage recording and protection, biodiversity and species monitoring and managed burns. Community engagement activities can include Junior Ranger activities, school based and other traineeships, support for disaster recovery and contributions to local community events.

Indigenous Land and Sea rangers are often Traditional Owners of the country on which they work and deliver conservation services that successfully combine methods drawn from both traditional knowledge and western science.

Indigenous Land and Sea rangers are skilled in conservation work and draw upon their experience in managing country, inter-generational knowledge sharing and formal Conservation and Land Management or related qualifications in managing country.

DES works with ranger groups to diversify their income and attract other investors. DES invites other investors to partner in supporting this highly successful program and a partnership prospectus is available, highlighting the opportunities to sponsor Indigenous ranger groups.

Highlights from a documentary recently produced with Network TEN provide insight to the important work carried out by Indigenous Land and Sea ranger groups.

The success of Indigenous ranger programs in delivering outcomes for Indigenous communities in conservation, social and economic terms has been confirmed through recent evaluation and other studies. These include a 2015 evaluation of the program  which found that it is delivering on its conservation, Indigenous participation and economic objectives.

Funding for new ranger positions

The 2017 State Budget provided a funding boost for the Indigenous Land and Sea Ranger Program, to bring the number of rangers to over 100 across Queensland.

The Queensland Government has announced the organisations that will receive funding to host 22 new Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander rangers under the Queensland Indigenous Land and Sea Ranger Program.

The 22 new rangers will be hosted by seven organisations to care for country across diverse areas of Queensland, from Cape York to the Bunya Mountains, and will contribute greatly to the protection of Queensland’s important ecosystems and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural heritage.

Below is a list of the successful host organisations including a brief summary of a portion of the work they will do:

1. Dawal-Wuru Aboriginal Corporation

  • Rangers and Yirrganydji Traditional Owners will deliver cultural revival programs focusing on the transfer of knowledge between generations including; cultural camps, Yirrganydji language lessons and junior ranger activities, cultural dance workshops and artefact making.
  • Bird monitoring surveys at Michaelmas Cay, identified by Birdlife International as a key biodiversity area.
  • Jelly fish surveys, shark research and dolphins, dugong and other mega-fauna surveys.
  • Work experience programs to introduce students to the work environment and adopt a school program to generate links to future Indigenous workforce.

2. Buda-dji Aboriginal Development Association Aboriginal Corporation

  • Flora and fauna surveys - rangers will undertake flora and fauna surveys to gather understanding of biodiversity and vegetation values within and Mona Mona Reserve and adjacent Kuranda National Park and State Forest.
  • Cultural Mapping Project - rangers will record cultural heritage values and enter these into a cultural heritage database.
  • Strong engagement will be developed with Kuranda State School and Cairns Steiner Hinterland School. Rangers will partner with Kuranda College to provide education and information sessions on their work and promote natural and cultural resource management outcomes.
  • Water quality recording and fisheries data collection in the Barron River, including a subsistence study of how Djabugay speaking people use the Barron River.

3. Bunya Peoples’ Aboriginal Corporation

  • Protect the grassland balds and grassy understorey through weed and fire management throughout Russell Park and Bunya National Park
  • Restore Gummingurru through cultural burning, propagation and planting of cultural use plants, and community engagement through 'fire circles'.
  • Undertake community engagement about native grasslands' conservation values in partnership with Condamine Alliance NRM group.
  • Restore Ban Ban Springs through weed management and develop a 'fire' circle/ yarning circle to revive Ban Ban as a meeting place.

4. Yintjingga Aboriginal Corporation

  • Contribute to the Junior Ranger Program, by supporting the development of resources and facilitation of activities when called upon. Their focus will be on Sea Country.
  • Establish connections with Fisheries for joint patrols and co-ordinating four Lama Lama sea country patrols per year with the focus on long weekends, holidays, good weather and Christmas.
  • Investigate possibility of seagrass work and sawfish work in partnership with JCU, and extending the bird survey work with Marine Parks on Pelican and Steiner Islands.
  • Monitor cave paintings, engaging with specialist/s for recording and possible protection.

5. Olkola Aboriginal Corporation

  • Establish photo monitoring points and vegetation plots across Olkola land.
  • Record golden shouldered parrot locations and condition of sites to develop a strategy with partners to address the ongoing threats.
  • Monitor water sites and record baselines results from testing, engage neighbours to get upstream and downstream results to provide holistic picture of water condition.
  • Cultural advisors on country will provide training to rangers and land managers around caring for country using traditional methods.

6. Butchulla Aboriginal Corporation RNTB

  • Protect and manage all cultural heritage values both tangible and intangible, including burial sites, artefact sites, scar trees, shell middens and sacred areas.
  • Assist neighbouring Traditional Owners in natural resource management (including fire, pests and weeds), exchange lost knowledge and mentor in areas such as Wulli Wulli land area Theodore, Cracow, Tarabilang Bunda area and Kabi Kabi area.
  • Participate in boat patrols, marine animal strandings, monitor coral ecosystems, marine conservation and habitat management including: cleaning up shorelines and maintaining healthy water ways and sea grass.
  • Research and education support work with tertiary education partners.

7. Gidarjil Development Corporation

  • Engage and work with Traditional Owners, advisory committees, Gladstone and Bundaberg region Local Marine Advisory Committees (LMACs).
  • Monitor of marine turtles (nesting/hatching) activities along the Port Curtis Coral Coast and offshore islands. This will be done through the nest Ocean program and work with DES and Dr Col Limpus at Mon Repo.
  • Protect and promote environmental and cultural values of country through undertaking riverine, beach and foreshore clean-ups under the Tangaroa Blue initiative.
  • Monitor sea grass in the Great Sandy Straight Marine Park (GSSMP), with Dr Emma Jackson.

The new funding will increase the number of full-time rangers over 100, currently employed across 23 communities in Queensland.

For more information about the terms and conditions of the program and about the funding process, please read the guidelines (PDF, 263KB).

Further information

For further information about the program, please contact the program office on (07) 3330 5553 or email