Australia

These Indigenous rangers have been awarded a $1.8 million prize from Prince William

Key Points
  • The Queensland Indigenous Women Rangers Network has been awarded a £1m ($1.8m) Earthshot Prize.
  • The network link technological solutions and start-up opportunities to environmental outcomes in Australia.
  • Launched by Prince William, the Earthshot Prize rewards innovative solutions in the fight against climate change.
An Indigenous women’s ranger program that combines thousands of years of cultural knowledge with digital technology to protect the Great Barrier Reef has won a £1 million ($1.8 million) from the .
The global prize rewards innovative evidence-based solutions in the fight against climate change and other large-scale environmental problems.

Queensland’s women’s Indigenous ranger program was one of five winners on Saturday, with each taking home $1.8 million in the 2022 prize awarded by Prince William at a ceremony in the US city of Boston.

Yuku Baja Muliku woman Larissa Hale, chair of the Great Barrier Reef Foundation traditional owner advisory group, said the prize would enable the network to continue developing First Nations female-led conservation programs.
“Winning this prize means we can grow and quadruple the number of Indigenous women rangers to 500, plus have 200 girls in an education program, 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 helping to repair the planet.

“This would create a global groundswell of First Nations female-led conservation programs, the largest effort of its kind on the planet.”
Ms Hale, who was the first female Indigenous ranger coordinator in Queensland, says she believes it is not too late to improve climate action.
“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,” she said.

“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.”

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

The foundation’s managing director, Anna Marsden, said the region’s Indigenous rangers were an important defence in the battle to protect the World Heritage Site, which remains under threat from climate change and other environmental problems, such as poor water quality.

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

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

What is the Earthshot Prize?

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

The Prize is centred around the goals of protecting and restoring nature, cleaning air, reviving oceans, building a waste-free world and fixing the climate.

The environmental prize 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.

The Indigenous Women of the Great Barrier Reef was the only Australian entry amongst the 15 finalists announced across the five categories.

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