Developing an Indigenous wetland monitoring and management toolkit

Project start date: 01/04/2024
Project end date: 30/10/2025
NESP funding: $257,134 (GST-exclusive)

Wetlands within the Kimberley region are critical ecosystems from a conservation perspective, with their health closely tied to Traditional Owner ways of knowing, being and doing. However, Kimberley wetlands face widespread threats from increased water-development, climate change, and invasive and feral species.

Indigenous ranger teams throughout Northern Australia protect wetlands from threats using various management actions (e.g. fencing, weeding, protective burning, monitoring, and knowledge sharing). Rangers are also challenged with measuring if these efforts are achieving their desired outcomes, that is, enhancing values or mitigating threats.

Wetlands near Walcott Inlet in the Kimberley Region of Western Australia will benefit from an Indigenous wetland monitoring platform. Photo: Philip Schubert/AdobeStock
Wetlands near Walcott Inlet in the Kimberley Region of Western Australia will benefit from an Indigenous wetland monitoring platform. Photo: Philip Schubert/AdobeStock.


This project is creating a wetland monitoring and management toolkit to address a growing interest in monitoring methods that Indigenous rangers can use to assess wetland health and inform management. The toolkit aims to empower indigenous rangers, traditional owners, and elders to plan, implement and evaluate wetland monitoring projects within the context of their healthy country plans. Co-designed with Kimberley Indigenous ranger groups, the toolkit will be founded in indigenous aspirations for wetlands and draw upon Aboriginal and scientific knowledge in a multiple evidence-based approach.

Focussing on the Kimberley region as a case study, the project is consolidating research and collaborations that the project team (UWA and Environs Kimberley) and Kimberley rangers have been engaged in for over a decade with learnings for the broader community, government agencies and natural resource management groups.


Key research areas

To develop an Indigenous wetland monitoring and management toolkit, this project is:

  • reviewing Indigenous people’s wetland monitoring work nationally and internationally
  • conducting pilot studies to assist Kimberley Indigenous ranger teams to refine monitoring methods
  • developing a monitoring toolkit through questionnaires and a targeted knowledge exchange workshop.