Reviews in Fish Biology and Fisheries

, Volume 26, Issue 4, pp 711–725 | Cite as

Collaborative research partnerships inform monitoring and management of aquatic ecosystems by Indigenous rangers

  • Rebecca J. Dobbs
  • Christy L. Davies
  • Michelle L. Walker
  • Neil E. Pettit
  • Bradley J. Pusey
  • Paul G. Close
  • Yoshi Akune
  • Ninjana Walsham
  • Brendan Smith
  • Albert Wiggan
  • Preston Cox
  • Douglas P. Ward
  • Fiona Tingle
  • Rod Kennett
  • Micha V. Jackson
  • Peter M. Davies
Research Paper

Abstract

Aquatic ecosystems are critical to the long-term viability and vibrancy of communities and economies across northern Australia. In a region that supports significant cultural and ecological water values, partnerships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous stakeholders can benefit aquatic ecosystem management. We present, as a case study from the Kimberley region of Western Australia, a collaborative research program that successfully documented Indigenous and Western Scientific knowledge of remote wetlands, using a variety of field-based activities, questionnaires, interviews and workshops. The sharing of knowledge between Indigenous and non-Indigenous research partners facilitated a comprehensive understanding of ecosystem values, threats, processes, management priorities and aspirations. These formed the basis of a management plan and monitoring tools, designed to build the capacity of an Indigenous ranger group to engage in research, monitoring and management of wetlands. The project provides a useful example of the benefits of collaborations in the context of remote-area management where local communities are responsible for environmental management and monitoring, such as is the case in northern Australia and presumably other areas of the world.

Keywords

Indigenous ecological knowledge Traditional knowledge Wetlands Kimberley Indigenous wetland management 

Notes

Acknowledgments

This research was funded through the Northern Australia Hub of the Australian Government’s National Environmental Research Program (NERP) and the Hermon Slade Foundation. We are grateful for access to Aboriginal lands granted by Nyul Nyul people, and for assistance and extensive local knowledge provided by the broader Nyul Nyul Ranger Group, Traditional Owners and community members. We are also grateful to the Nyul Nyul Ranger coordinator Mark Rothery for providing valuable support for the project and David Tunbridge for assistance in the field. The Nyul Nyul Rangers are facilitated by the KLC with support from the Indigenous Land Corporation and funding from the Australian Government. Ethics approvals for the project were provided by the UWA Human Research Ethics Committee (Reference RA/4/1/5959), UWA Animal Ethics Committee (Reference RA/3/100/1127) and the KLC's Research Ethics and Access Committee (REAC).

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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rebecca J. Dobbs
    • 1
  • Christy L. Davies
    • 2
  • Michelle L. Walker
    • 1
  • Neil E. Pettit
    • 1
  • Bradley J. Pusey
    • 1
  • Paul G. Close
    • 1
  • Yoshi Akune
    • 3
  • Ninjana Walsham
    • 3
  • Brendan Smith
    • 3
  • Albert Wiggan
    • 3
  • Preston Cox
    • 3
  • Douglas P. Ward
    • 4
  • Fiona Tingle
    • 1
  • Rod Kennett
    • 5
  • Micha V. Jackson
    • 2
  • Peter M. Davies
    • 1
  1. 1.Centre of Excellence in Natural Resource ManagementThe University of Western AustraliaAlbanyAustralia
  2. 2.North Australian Indigenous Land and Sea Management Alliance LimitedCharles Darwin UniversityDarwinAustralia
  3. 3.Nyul Nyul Rangers, Beagle Bay CommunityBroomeAustralia
  4. 4.Australian Rivers InstituteGriffith UniversityNathanAustralia
  5. 5.Australian Institute for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander StudiesCanberra CityAustralia

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