Imperilled birds and First Peoples’ land and sea Country in Australia

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For First Peoples across Australia, birds have important connections to kin and Country. We draw on a recent analysis of all Australia’s threatened bird taxa to identify on whose traditional Country they occur. Of the 201 imperilled (threatened or Near Threatened) bird taxa facing threats within Australian territory (including Commonwealth waters and offshore islands), 64% occur on lands and waters to which at least 463 First Peoples’ groups have a connection. Fourteen bird taxa occur only on Country of a single First Peoples’ group while 15 taxa occur on Country of over 50 First Peoples’ groups. Four First Peoples’ groups, in north Queensland and south-eastern Australia, have over 20 imperilled bird taxa on their Country. Taxa on First Peoples’ Country face 78% of the total national threat load on imperilled birds and have 75% of both the research and management needs for relieving threats. All the threats are a consequence of colonisation, suggesting that supporting First Peoples to manage the threats to birds is a moral, and potentially legal, responsibility. Many First Peoples have chosen to engage actively in the conservation of imperilled species but there are numerous additional opportunities for monitoring and active management of Country that will yield benefits. Our analysis can help First Peoples identify which birds on their Country are listed as threatened under western conventions and that they may wish to help conserve; and assist conservation managers to identify First Peoples who might wish to lead or become more involved in imperilled bird management.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)108-122
Number of pages15
Issue number1
Early online date2024
Publication statusPublished - 2024

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