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Restoring salt springs for ecological and cultural values

Project Description

The project team will work directly with the DLRM (Flora and Fauna Division, NT Department of Land Resource Management), Traditional Owners and CLC ranger groups to restore Salt Springs, an ecologically and culturally important water site for Santa Teresa community. This site will be used as a case study to help produce guidelines on how to restore other important and damaged sites. The project will employ a research assistant from the Santa Teresa community and undertake an Honours project through the IAE UC. As the restoration of arid waterholes worldwide is in its infancy, this case study will provide a key role by monitoring ecological change before and after restoration actions are implemented. Critical changes might include the restoration of riparian vegetation and a concomitant change in both terrestrial and aquatic biota, which are used as indicators of ecosystem health. This project will provide a unique opportunity for the University of Canberra to be involved in a meaningful project that can make a difference for Indigenous communities in remote Australia, and takes advantage of UC's research strengths in environmental monitoring and applied ecology. 


  • Restore an important cultural site for Santa Teresa community, so the site can be used safely by humans and native fauna
  • Establish techniques suited to the restoration of ecological function and water quality within an arid zone spring fed waterhole
  • Determine the effectiveness of restoration activities undertaken to ameliorate the impacts of feral camels at an important ecological and cultural sites
  • Link the restoration of ecological values to the cultural values associated with the sites
  • Ultimately, produce guidelines for wetland restoration techniques that can be used across arid Australia and make these techniques accessible in the relevant local languages, such as Pitjantjatjara and Luritja/Pintupi
This research project will act as a pilot study and will provide data that will be used in a future ARC grant application. 

Tangible Benefits and impact of the research to Australian Indigenous Communities

This project will benefit both Indigenous communities and local ranger groups by providing guidelines and frameworks, written in local languages, for on-going and future wetland restoration. These actions will support not only the conservation and restoration of waterholes across arid Australia, they will provide a segue for future restorations efforts to be conducted locally by traditional Owners and Indigenous ranger groups. 

Dissemination will include scientific outputs (scientific papers in international peer reviewed journals, conference presentations). The project team expects to produce three high quality scientific publications from this project. Results will also be disseminated through workshops involving Indigenous communities in Alice Springs and on country. Ultimately, this project will produce guidelines for wetland restoration techniques that can be used across arid Australia and make these accessible in the different local languages.

Expected benefits and outcomes 

  • Training of a research assistant from the community and an Honours student in arid wetland restoration
  • Restoration of a key wetland site of high biodiversity and cultural significance
  • Development of restoration techniques and guidelines for future efforts, applicable widely in arid Australia and accessible in different local languages
  • Capacity building for Indigenous rangers and other NRM practitioners
  • Value-adding to other programs, such as on-ground NRM activities planned for the newly designated Southern Tanami and Katiti-Petermann Indigenous Protected areas

 Project Leaders

Dr Fiona DyerDr Fiona Dyer
Senior Research Fellow
Institute for Applied Ecology
University Research Centre

T: +61 (0) 6201 2452

Dr Valerie Caron Dr Valerie Caron
Lecturer, Science
Faculty of Education, Science, Technology and Maths
University of Canberra

T: +61 (0) 6201 5941