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Theme 3 –Plants for People

Documenting traditional uses of tropical plant and fungal resources, and innovative utilisation such as biodiscovery and bioprospecting, novel crops and commercialisation.

Development and delivery of germplasm for sandalwood and whitewood in Vanuatu and northern Australia

Team: Tony Page

Background: In Vanuatu we are working in partnership with the national Forestry Department to identify the conditions required for successful wild sandalwood (Santalum spp.) and whitewood (Endospermum medullosum) industries based on sustainable production in agroforestry systems. Natural populations of sandalwood are currently endangered due to unsustainable whole-tree extraction. This project is funded by the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research.

Development of a PNG timber industry based on community-based planted forests: design and implementation of a national germplasm delivery system

Team: Tony Page, Julio Ugarte Guerra (JCU).

Background: The production of high quality timber and other forest products from planted trees and forests represents an important development opportunity for Papua New Guinea. This project addresses an important constraint to the development of such an industry, i.e. the unavailability of adequate supplies of timber tree germplasm (seeds or planting stock). The germplasm shortage results both from a lack of accessible, good quality sources and from an absence of mechanisms for delivery from source to end-user. We are working in three project hubs in the development of a model approach to germplasm production and delivery, suitable for post-project scaling-up (within-hub) and scaling-out (to new hubs). Teak (Tectona grandis) has been selected as the focal species, due principally to its established high commercial value and demand, growing local interest in its cultivation, and its proven suitability to lowland PNG conditions. Wider application of the approach will be facilitated by the preparation of a “flexi-media” toolkit. As well as documenting the approach, the tool-kit, in DVD form, will include print-ready and broadcast-ready training and extension material designed for different target groups. This project is funded by the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research.

Tropical Indigenous Ethnobotany Centre (TIEC) Partnership

Background: The TIEC is a partnership between Traditional Owners (TO), the ATH, JCU’s The Cairns Institute, Qld. Govt. DSITIA, CSIRO and other government agencies and organisations. Development of the TIEC, housed at the ATH, and research projects undertaken in association with it will advance through mutually beneficial partnerships. Projects will research and collate existing ethnobotanical data, promote and carry out research in a respectful and culturally appropriate way, and provide awareness, training and education.

The TIEC aims for recognition as the centre for ethnobotanical research in the Australian tropics, with a focus on north Queensland. Future activities may include neighbouring countries.

The following four projects were undertaken under the auspices of the TIEC.

Team: Gerry Turpin, Rosemary Hill and Ilisapeci Lyons (CSIRO), Eda Addicott, Sarah Warne and Katrina Keith (JCU’s The Cairns Institute), Darren Crayn.

Two-way Knowledge - building synergies between Indigenous Knowledge and the Atlas of Living Australia’s science

Team: Ilisapeci Lyons and Rosemary Hill (CSIRO), Gerry Turpin, Mandingalbay Yidinji People, John LaSalle (Atlas of Living Australia/CSIRO).

Background: A project was brokered between Mandingalbay Yidinji Aboriginal Corporation (Cairns), CSIRO and the TIEC to explore opportunities to strengthen knowledge partnerships between Indigenous knowledge and science with a Mandingalbay land and sea country focus. This pilot project will aim to achieve the following objectives: to support Indigenous-driven development of a two-way knowledge system that builds on synergies between Indigenous knowledge and the scientific capability of the Atlas of Living Australia (ALA); to evaluate the particular benefits and risks for Indigenous people involved in the pilot of linking with the ALA, including Indigenous concepts of risks and benefits; and to contribute to the Mandingalbay Yidinji People’s goals for country through a two-way information system with the ALA.

Mbabaram traditional plant use research

Team: Gerry Turpin, Ashley Field, a Mbabaram Traditional Owner and Hans Wohlmuth (Southern Cross University).

Background: A pilot project with the Mbabaram Aboriginal Corporation, NQ, and Southern Cross University, NSW (SCU), has been brokered by TIEC for SCU to research the properties of medicinal plants of the Mbabaram people. TIEC, with assistance from Mbabaram Traditional Owners, will collect and prepare plant materials used in traditional medicines.

Mapoon traditional plant use research

Team: Gerry Turpin, Mapoon Rangers, Jane Blackwood (Mapoon Ranger Coordinator).

Background: Research on traditional plant use within the lands of the Tjungundji, Yupungathi, Warrangku, Taepithiggi, Thanakwith and Mpakwithi clans in the Mapoon region, Western Cape York Peninsula is being conducted with the Mapoon Rangers. The outcomes include provision of a knowledge base of plant use and vegetation of these areas to inform land management.

Medicinal and Edible Plants of Cape Flattery – Hope Vale

Team: Gerry Turpin, Fanie Venter

Research is being undertaken to document the ways in which indigenous peoples of the Cape Flattery-Hope Vale area (NE Qld) use plants for medicine and bush tucker.