A GROUP of Indigenous women rangers, led by Cape York environmental warrior Larissa Hale, has been named as the first Australian finalist for Prince William’s prestigious Earthshot Prize.
A passionate environmentalist and trailblazing leader, Ms Hale is among a small but growing group of female ranger coordinators across the country.
She is also a Cook Shire councillor, managing director of her Traditional Owner organisation and heads the Queensland Indigenous Women’s Ranger Network.
It is this group of inspiring women who are in the running for the Revive Our Oceans category, representing the “Indigenous Women of the Great Barrier Reef”.
“I was thrilled and humbled when I found out and all the women rangers are excited,” she said.
Ms Hale has since had numerous conversations with the Earthshot team at Kensington Palace and the BBC, who will cover the live award ceremony.
Ms Hale has known for months that QIWRN was chosen as one of 15 finalists from among more than 1000 nominees but has had to keep it under wraps from her fellow rangers and friends.
“My direct team in Cooktown will be pretty excited because they’ve gone through all the filming with the BBC and they know (QIWRN) has been nominated for the Earthshot Prize, but they don’t know (we are) finalists,” she told ABC Far North earlier this month.
Ms Hale has been managing a land and sea ranger program on her grandfather’s Yuku Baja country, just south of Cooktown, since 2007 and has been advocating for more women to join the land management field.
“The platform that is offered by the Earthshot Prize is extraordinary,” Ms Hale said.
“To be showcasing these amazing projects right across the world is a powerful way for First Nations women to see and imagine their futures in conservation management.”
The Earthshot Prize is awarded to five groups or individuals for their contributions to environmentalism.
It was first awarded in 2021 and is planned to run annually until 2030. Each winner receives a grant of £1 million to continue their environmental work.
Judges have included Cate Blanchett, Prince William and Sir David Attenborough.
Ms Hale said if QIWRN was to win, it would be a game changer.
“With this funding we could have 500 Indigenous rangers, 200 girls in an education program and we could reach out to a network of countries around the world to build a global collective helping repair the planet,” she said.
“This would create a groundswell of First Nations female-led conservation programs, the largest effort of its kind on the planet.”