Most Territorians would struggle to find Woodycupaldiya on a map, but helicopters are spending more time flying over remote locations like it as demand for their services pick up.
Outback Helicopter Airwork NT manager Paul Blore said ‘natural resource management’ activities such as combatting invasive weeds and feral pigs now takes up 20 per cent of the company’s time.
Mr Blore said despite an increasing demand, many people were unaware of how big and important a job controlling weeds and feral animals can be, especially outside of urban areas.
“I talk to a lot of people in cities, and they don’t know…When you say you go out to Peppimenarti or Palumpa, they think that’s the end of the earth,” he said.
Mr Blore said aerial surveying and spraying of weeds such as Mimosa pigra, which can spread aggressively, made a huge difference to rural Territorians who struggle to manage the threats with just on-ground measures.
Without the aid of helicopters providing this natural resource management work many would not be able to graze cattle on certain sites or, in the case of Traditional Owners, access hunting grounds or areas with cultural and spiritual significance.
Biodiversity in these areas can suffer as aggressive weeds and feral species outcompete native plants and animals.
Mr Blore’s story is one of more than two dozen being celebrated at this month’s Northern Territory Natural Resource Management (NT NRM) Awards, where Outback Helicopters is a finalist in the category for small business initiative.
The NT NRM awards recognise the achievements of Territorians who contribute their time and energy to sustainably managing the land, water, soil, plants and animals that make up the Territory’s natural environment.
There are 25 finalists, vying for 10 awards this year, including the People’s Choice category, which is decided solely by votes from the public.
Territory Natural Resource Management chief executive Karen May said the Awards gala dinner was part of a three-day conference that would host hundreds of Territorians including pastoralists, Indigenous rangers, scientists, government staff, Landcare workers and volunteers involved in managing fire, weeds, feral animals, and protecting cultural and natural assets.
“The Northern Territory is home to 67 sites of conservation significance, 189 threatened species, 7 feral animals and 17 weeds of national significance,” Ms May said.
“Working to protect these assets and manage the threats is a huge job.”
Ms May encouraged everyone to visit http://www.tnrmconference.org.au/awards to see the great work being done by this year’s finalists.