Great Barrier Reef Indigenous Rangers win Prince William’s environmental prize

Dept of Climate Change, Energy, Environment & Water

A women-led Indigenous rangers program that protects and restores the Great Barrier Reef has been announced the winner of a 2022 Earthshot Prize by HRH Prince William in Boston, USA.

The winning program combines 65,000 years of Indigenous knowledge with digital technologies such as drones to monitor coral changes and bushfires to protect precious land and sea country.

Established in 2018, the network was designed to provide a forum for female rangers to share their experiences, ideas and information and has since trained more than 60 women.

Proud Yuku Baja Muliku woman and the first female Indigenous ranger coordinator in Queensland, Larissa Hale accepted the prestigious £1 million prize on behalf of the Indigenous women who are protecting and restoring the Great Barrier Reef.

Launched in 2020 by HRH Prince William and The Royal Foundation, the Earthshot Prize is the world’s most prestigious environmental prize, designed to discover, spotlight and scale ground-breaking solutions to the world’s greatest challenges.

Quotes attributable to Larissa Hale:

“I am thrilled and honoured to see the Queensland Indigenous Women’s Ranger Network recognised on the global platform provided by the Earthshot Prize.

“Winning one of the five 2022 Earthshot Prizes is a gamechanger for our women’s ranger network that exists to protect the Great Barrier Reef and all our vital land and sea country – our home.

“The Queensland Women’s Indigenous Ranger Program is the only First Nations women’s program linking technological solutions and start-up opportunities to environmental outcomes ‘on country’ in Australia.

“Winning this prize means we can grow the number of Indigenous women rangers, plus have 200 girls in an education program, inspiring the next generation of Indigenous rangers.

“Beyond that, our ambition is to reach out to a network of countries around the world to build a global collective helping to repair the planet.

“This would create a global groundswell of First Nations female led conservation programs.

“Many people are worried about climate change and the destruction of nature. This place has always been our home, but today we risk losing it and the unique culture that has existed here for millennia.

“But I believe it isn’t too late to act. We have the power to shift this if we stand up now, work together and take action.

“I’m grateful to the Earthshot Prize for supporting our vision to achieve this.”

Quotes attributable to the Minister for Environment and Water, Tanya Plibersek:

“I am absolutely thrilled for Larissa and her team.

“Currently only 20% of Indigenous rangers in Queensland are women, my hope is this Prize will help raise awareness of this vital work to grow the number of women rangers on the Reef and beyond.

“We know the Great Barrier Reef is under threat from the impacts of climate change, poor water quality, plastic pollution, crown-of-thorns starfish and unsustainable fishing practices.

“The Reef’s Indigenous rangers are vital to its defence.

“Indigenous Rangers play a vital role in the restoration and preservation of land and water including the Reef by helping to protect both biodiversity and cultural values. The programs also provide jobs in regional and remote communities, maintain connection to country and grows local economies.

“That’s why the Albanese Labor Government has committed to doubling the number of Indigenous rangers by 2030 and boosted the funding for Indigenous Protected Areas by $10 million.”

About the Queensland Indigenous Women’s Ranger Network

The Queensland Indigenous Women’s Ranger Network (QIWRN) was established in 2018 to provide a forum for women rangers to share their experiences, ideas and information; provide support and advice; and enable connections in remote and isolated communities.

QIWRN is delivered by Yuku Baja Muliku Landowner and Reserves, a Cooktown-based Traditional Owner group who were the successful recipients of a joint Queensland Government and WWF Australia grant to establish a state-wide women’s land and sea ranger network.

Yuku Baja Muliku’s Ranger Coordinator, Larissa Hale, is a trailblazer for Indigenous women. Larissa was the first female Indigenous ranger coordinator in Queensland and is also the Managing Director of Yuku Baja Muliku Landowner and Reserves.

QIWRN has been co-designed by Indigenous women, government and non-government agencies, land councils and other stakeholders as a highly collaborative program that delivers lasting support, opportunities and security for Indigenous women rangers across Queensland.

About the Earthshot Prize

Launched in 2020 by HRH Prince William and The Royal Foundation, The Earthshot Prize is the world’s most prestigious environmental prize, designed to discover, spotlight and scale groundbreaking solutions to the world’s greatest challenges.Inspired by President John F. Kennedy’s ‘Moonshot’ in the 1960s, which united the American people around the seemingly impossible goal of reaching the moon, The Earthshot Prize was founded to mobilise a wave of innovation and inspire a collectivemindset of optimism, possibility, and creativity in the global race to repair and regenerate our planet.

The Earthshot Prize is centred around five ‘Earthshots’ – simple, ambitious, and aspirational

goals defining the world we wish to build for future generations. Each Earthshot is underpinned by scientifically agreed goals and targets, including the UN Sustainable Development Goals and other internationally recognised measures to help repair our planet.

The five Earthshots are:

• Protect and restore nature

• Clean our air

• Revive our oceans

• Build a waste-free world

• Fix our climate

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