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New study highlights invasive species threat to Indigenous culture

Eco Voice
Eco Voice
First published in 2003, Eco Voice is your go-to publication for sustainability news in Australia. Eco Voice prides itself as an independent news platform with a clear focus on sustainability, with articles coming from a diverse range of contributors – all levels of government, corporations, not-for-profits, community groups, small to medium sized businesses, universities, research organisations, together with input from international sources. Eco Voice values community, conservation and commerce. Eco Voice is a media partner of the prestigious Australian Banksia Sustainability Awards – The Peak Sustainability Awards.

In response to new global research released today which highlights the severe impact of invasive species on Indigenous culture and connection to Country, Invasive Species Council Indigenous Ambassador Richard Swain has called on the Federal Government to appoint a dedicated Caring for Country Commissioner to support Indigenous land managers managing invasive species.

The data in the new study reveals invasive species are especially high near urban areas where Indigenous land management is most compromised.

‘Indigenous Australians’ connection to Country is being undermined as invasive species, like feral deer or buffel grass, damage our sacred lands and drive the extinction of culturally important animals,’ said Wiradjuri man Richard Swain who is the Indigenous Ambassador for the Invasive Species Council. 

‘That is why we are calling for a dedicated Caring for Country Commissioner who can ensure Indigenous perspectives on invasive species impacts and management are reflected in government policies and funding.

‘This new role would ensure a dedicated voice of Country is brought to the decision making table and provide land managers with the resourcing and empowerment they need to tackle this escalating issue.

‘Our land cries out for healing, yet Australia’s disregard is painfully evident. It’s time we start the journey of healing Country and addressing invasive species is our first crucial step.

‘How sad to witness Australia leading in the loss of our precious mammals and the unchecked spread of feral animals like camels, horses, and goats. This reality weighs heavy on our hearts as it reveals the widespread harm inflicted upon our land and our culture.

‘If we listened to the voices of the animals and plants that evolved here they are pleading for respect and for us to do more to stop the damage done by invasive species which outcompete them and threaten to send them extinct.

‘The damage caused by invasive species to Indigenous culture is everywhere and this is having a deep cultural impact on Indigenous Australians.’

Key takeaways from the new research released today:

  • Invasive species pose a multifaceted threat to Indigenous Australians’ profound connection to Country, impacting not only the ecological balance but also deeply rooted cultural practices. This may include degrading culturally significant landscapes (such as Buffel Grass) or impact Totum Species, a species in which Indigenous Australians connect with spiritually but also feel culturally responsible to care for. It also threatens cultural practices like access to bush tucker and bush medicine
  • Most of the world’s Indigenous-owned areas with high numbers of invasives are in Australia,  particularly the eastern states
  • Indigenous lands close to cities or with main roads nearby tend to have high numbers of invasive species because agriculture and infrastructure tend to help them spread


  • Whilst the issue of invasive species in metro areas is high, remote areas are grappling with devastating impacts of invasive species like buffel grass, camel and cats in remote areas are massive
  • Australia has the worst mammal extinctions record in the world and invasive species are the number one driver
  • A recent global scientific report found Australia has lost more native mammal species than any other continent, with more than 100 species listed as either extinct or extinct in the wild
  • The global scientific report also found over 80 per cent of Australia’s mammal extinctions were caused by invasive species
  • Invasive species are likely to be a primary driver of 85 per cent of the next round of predicted vertebrate extinctions over the next 20 years

About Voice of Country:

Giving voice to the soil, animals and species that evolved here. Voice of Country recognises the role of First Nations people is central to solving Australia’s conservation challenges. The project aims to build awareness, ecological knowledge, advocacy skills and practical community capacity for the management of Country.

As a result, they are calling for the urgent appointment of an Indigenous Caring for Country Commissioner to ensure a dedicated and permanent voice for the protection and health of Country.



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