Wetlands Ecology and Management

, Volume 26, Issue 6, pp 1143–1156 | Cite as

Working with land and sea rangers to tackle tropical wetland restoration and conservation on the north-western islands, Torres Straits, Australia

  • N. J. WalthamEmail author
  • J. Schaffer
  • J. Buist
  • M. Geyle
  • D. Toby
Original Paper


Importance of community stakeholder participation in coastal freshwater and tidal wetland monitoring and restoration has become increasingly recognised. In Australia, Land and Sea Rangers (LSR) are appointed land and sea custodians from local indigenous communities and under guidance of experts learn a range of scientifically relevant and rigorous sampling techniques to protect and conserve Country. Scientific training to build LSR confidence to tackle restoration and conservation of sensitive and culturally important wetlands is shown here. Between May 2014 and May 2015 three training campaigns were completed where LSR on Boigu and Saibai Islands (the most northern islands in the Torres Straits, Australia), completed water quality and wetland flora/fauna surveys across both islands. Forty wetland fauna species were documented (with a similar wetland assemblage on each ANOSIM P > 0.4) comprising 35 fish species (including the invasive freshwater climbing perch, Anabas testudineus), two crustaceans, a freshwater turtle (Chelodina oblonga) (a relic freshwater species after the last sea level rise approximately 6,000 years ago in the region), and two mangrove snakes (Myron richardsoni and Fordonia leucobalia) (both snake records represent a range extension). This data was presented at community workshops with the purpose to build LSR confidence, and with the community, develop a plan to conserve wetland cultural and environmental values. Five thematic wetland conservation themes were identified which resulted in agreeing to management actions necessary on both islands. Since the inception of this program in 2014, additional LSR restoration and monitoring programs have extended to wetlands on other islands in the Torres Straits. We advocate the need for more remote area wetland monitoring and management programs facilitated through LSR programs.


Invasive fish Climate change Mangroves Island ecology Freshwater wetlands Saltmarsh 



We acknowledge and thank the Malu Ki’ai and Saibai Mura Buway RNTB Corporations for permission to access their land to carry out the training and surveys. The support of the Boigu, and Saibai TSIRC is also acknowledged, as is the valuable assistance provided by the Torres Straits Regional Authority staff. Funding was provided by Queensland Government and the Australian Government. We also thank Queensland Government for wetland mapping data, and Prof Burrows (TropWATER) for technical support and guidance. Thanks to Tom Parkin and Luke Allen for providing information in relation to freshwater turtles on Saibai Island. Additional thanks to Jodi Rowley at the Australian Museum for providing collections access and aiding in the identification of Myron richardsoni.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • N. J. Waltham
    • 1
    Email author
  • J. Schaffer
    • 1
  • J. Buist
    • 2
  • M. Geyle
    • 2
  • D. Toby
    • 2
  1. 1.Centre for Tropical Water and Aquatic Ecosystem Research (TropWATER), Freshwater Ecology Research GroupJames Cook UniversityQueenslandAustralia
  2. 2.Land and Sea Management UnitTorres Straits Regional AuthorityThursday IslandAustralia

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