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Mapping country from space

Ngadju traditional custodian Leslie Schultz - a Steering Group member of the First Nations Clean Energy Network - has spent much of the past year travelling the world sounding the alarm about climate change.

He is dismayed by just how urgent the climate warning has become for his own backyard.

"It's very important we continue this fight," he said.

"Not just for us locals.

"But for a community that's still out there wanting to come and have a look at Ngadju country.

"We're one of a kind on the globe."

Mapping the Great Western Woodlands on Ngadju country

Drones, planes and even the International Space Station have flown over Ngadju country in Western Australia, collecting information to help protect the world's largest temperate woodland. 

The sprawling mosaic of eucalypts, mallee, shrublands and salt lakes remains under increasing threat from bushfires, which thanks to climate change, are hotter and more ferocious than ever before. 

These trees are widely spaced, which used to mean fires would peter out before taking hold. 

But recent fires were so ferocious they made it out of the sand plains and through the old-growth sections, destroying decades worth of carbon storage and habitat. 

Working out how to protect the old-growth trees is crucial.

But to do that, they need to pinpoint exactly where those mature plants are.

The mapping project led by Tommaso Jucker from the University of Briston, which Ngadju rangers and the CSIRO and contributed to, was one of the first times LIDAR data from drones, planes and the International Space Station had been combined to map a woodland.

LIDAR, which stands for light detection and ranging, is a 3D mapping technique.

The mapping project found that old growth trees make up about 40% of the woodlands, an area about the size of Switzerland.

WA Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions fire operations officer Chris Curtis said the map would help them plan prescribed burns. 

Read more of this story first published by the ABC