Indigenous knowledge and managing the Indigenous estate

Project start date: 01/07/2021
Project end date: 31/12/2022
NESP funding: $200,000 (GST-exclusive)

More than half of the Australian land mass is now acknowledged to be part of the Indigenous estate through more than 450 Native Title determinations and over 1,230 registered Indigenous Land Use Agreements.

There is a fundamental need for better planning, prioritisation and evaluation to inform the management of this estate, while reconnecting and strengthening Indigenous peoples’ connections to their culture and their Country. This need is further strengthened by the fact that 54% of the National Reserve System is conferred through the Indigenous conservation estate in the form of Indigenous Protected Areas and jointly managed conservation reserves.

This Indigenous conservation estate supports a large number of Australia’s threatened species and their populations. Like other areas in Australia, the Indigenous estate is not immune to the major pressures that lead to ecosystem degradation and decline of biodiversity, including those impacting on threatened species and ecological communities.

The Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water has tasked the hub with identifying, prioritising and undertaking the research required to support Indigenous knowledge, the management of the Indigenous estate and the mutual benefits this will deliver to the Australian environment.

Similarly, Indigenous Australians have identified and articulated a series of research needs, particularly for the management of Indigenous Protected Areas, in their response to the outcomes of the first phase of the National Environmental Science Program.

This project is co-designing projects that respond to these needs. This project also confirms an Indigenous voice in the governance and operations of the Resilient Landscapes Hub through the refinement and final endorsement of the Indigenous Partnerships Strategy.

Key research areas include:

  • research to support Indigenous Australians and their joint-management partners in managing the Indigenous estate
  • mobilising Indigenous knowledge to better understand, manage and conserve Australia’s environments.
  • Rangers managing sea Country in northern Australia. Photo: Glenn Cambpell.
  • Bininj Traditional Owners pointing at a data dashboard developed for Kakadu. Photo: Kakadu National Park.
  • Indigenous knowledge of seasonal variations helps to guide management decisions and understand the timing of ecological changes. Photo: NESP Northern Hub.

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