Aboriginal Traditional Knowledge Boosting Farm Productivity

South West Catchments Council (SWCC) is excited to announce a collaboration with ‘Aunty Viv’ Vivienne Hansen to produce a guide on Noongar plant use, aimed at boosting pollination rates and building farm resilience.

Vivienne ‘Binyaarn’ Hansen is a Balladong Wadjuk Yorga woman from the Bibbulmun Nation who has published two locally renowned books – ‘Noongar Bush Medicine’ and ‘Noongar Bush Tucker’. She also runs a bush medicine business and delivers workshops to share kaartdijin (knowledge) of Noongar boodja (country).

Aunty Viv will contribute to the guide by outlining traditional Noongar ecological knowledge of native plant species known to attract pollinators such as insects and birds and Noongar plant use. Development of the guide forms part of a wider SWCC research project investigating how pollination services can be enhanced to increase farm productivity.

SWCC has been working with orchardists and broadacre farmers since 2018 to revegetate parts of their farm with perennials and/or native vegetation to enhance food availability for pollinators. Evidence of which plant species are most effective at providing continuous food and shelter has been gathered, and extensive insect and bird surveys, yield counts and producer surveys conducted. Flowering calendars have been developed to assist farmers in selecting beneficial revegetation species for their region.

Participating farmers are provided with information and support to implement enhanced management practices, such as environmentally sensitive integrated pest management. Through these innovative practices, farmers can improve productivity and reduce reliance on chemicals. By demonstrating to consumers that their product meets the growing demand for healthy and safe food, they can improve market resilience.

A key part of the project is working with Aboriginal people to ensure that local traditional ecological knowledge relevant to enhancing beneficial insects and increasing biodiversity is captured and disseminated to farmers. Throughout the project, several Aboriginal people have been engaged to pass on their invaluable expertise through one-on-one sessions and workshops with over 30 farmers.

Project Manager, Wendy Wilkins, said: “Farmers are really interested in how this information can be used to encourage biodiversity on their farms and how to manage revegetation. They’re also interested in the Noongar six seasons, traditional plant use and cultural burning practices.”

The guide, titled ‘Enhancing pollination services through targeted revegetation – Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) about plants identified as suitable for pollinators’ will be available free online from June 2023.

This project is delivered by South West Catchments Council, through funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program.

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