These indigenous rangers received a $1 million award from Prince William

Key points
  • The Queensland Indigenous Women Rangers Network has been awarded a £1 million ($1.8 million) Earthshot award.
  • The network links technology solutions and start-up opportunities with environmental outcomes in Australia.
  • Launched by Prince William, the Earthshot Prize rewards innovative solutions in the fight against climate change.
An indigenous women’s guardian program combining thousands of years of cultural knowledge with digital technology to protect the Great Barrier Reef has won £1m ($1.8m) from .
The program, which combines 60,000 years of indigenous knowledge with digital technologies to protect land and sea lands, including the Great Barrier Reef, was one of five winners of the second annual Earthshot Prize.
Yuku Baja Muliku woman Larissa Hale, chair of the Great Barrier Reef Foundation’s Traditional Owners Advisory Group, said the award will allow the network to continue developing conservation programs led by First Nations women.
“Winning this award means we can also quadruple the number of Indigenous Women Rangers to 500, plus have 200 girls in an education programme, inspiring the next generation of Indigenous Rangers,” she said.

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

“This would create a global flood of conservation programs led by First Nations women, the largest effort of its kind on the planet.”
Ms Hale, who was Queensland’s first female Indigenous ranger coordinator, says she believes it is not too late to improve action on climate change.
“Many people are concerned 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,” she said.

“But I think it’s not too late to act. We have the power to change this if we stand up now, work together and take action.”

Indigenous rangers performing ceremony on the beach.

The Queensland Indigenous Women Ranger Network combines thousands of years of cultural knowledge with digital technology to protect the Great Barrier Reef. Source: given / Great Barrier Reef Foundation

The foundation’s managing director, Anna Marsden, said the region’s indigenous foresters were an important defense in the fight to protect the World Heritage site, which remains threatened by climate change and other environmental issues such as poor water quality .

“As custodians of the earth, foresters protect sites of great cultural and spiritual importance, bringing together ancient knowledge passed down from generation to generation and modern tools such as drones to monitor coral changes, wildfires and land degradation,” she said.

“Their knowledge and the data they have already collected has given us critical insight into one of the most important ecosystems on the planet.”

What is the Earthshot Award?

Launched in 2020 by HRH Prince William and the Royal Foundation, the Earthshot Prize is designed to discover, highlight and scale innovative solutions to the world’s biggest challenges.

The award is focused on the goals of protecting and restoring nature, cleaning the air, revitalizing the oceans, building a world without waste and repairing the climate.

The environmental award was inspired by President John F Kennedy’s Moonshot in the 1960s, a challenge to the American people to claim a leadership role in the space race.

Indigenous Women of the Great Barrier Reef was the only Australian entry among the 15 finalists announced in the five categories.

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