In April 2022, Zahra, Trace Ecology's esteemed botanist, joined forces with an Indigenous Ranger Group from Western Australia's Goldfields region. Their destination: a site near Sir Samuel, where they would embark on a ranger-led snapshot survey. This journey was designed to support Native Title Holders in accomplishing the botanical component of an ecological survey on their land. The goal: to weave together the threads of scientific knowledge and cultural wisdom in a symbiotic, two-way science approach.


Goldfields, Western Australia


April 2022



Situated in the arid heart of the Murchison bioregion, Sir Samuel is characterised by its reliance on ephemeral water streams and concealed groundwater reserves, which are critical for the survival of the native flora and fauna in this water-scarce landscape. The indigenous plant species, adapted to conserve water over extended periods, epitomise resilience in this parched environment. Nonetheless, this delicately balanced ecosystem remains susceptible to disturbances, necessitating vigilant monitoring, especially considering the impacts of mining activities and the looming challenges posed by climate change.

Our investigative approach hinged on a snapshot observational survey, steering our team through ecologically significant communities to evaluate the prevalence of both priority and invasive plant species. Employing advanced tools like Qfield and MDS, we meticulously cataloged the species, capturing visual records and essential details. The amassed data was subsequently converted into detailed maps, graphically representing the dispersion of both native and non-native species within the surveyed territory.

Integral to our study was the invaluable cultural wisdom imparted by the Tjiwarl Rangers. With their approval, we documented culturally significant flora and their traditional applications, enhancing the scientific data with cultural depth. Furthermore, we proposed strategic monitoring sites in ecologically sensitive areas, laying the groundwork for future monitoring efforts, supported by both the community and professional consultants.

The botanical survey conducted on Tjiwarl country proved to be an enlightening venture, culminating in the identification of a Priority 4 species, an invasive plant species, and an array of culturally important plant species, a testament to the Native Title Holders' extensive knowledge.

Zahra eagerly anticipates her return to the field, cherishing the rich knowledge exchange and engaging conversations with the Tjiwarl Rangers. The vibrant biodiversity of the region, notably the encounter with the Fine Faced Gecko (Diplodactylus pulcher), has left an indelible impression, highlighting the ecological significance of the region.


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