About the booklet
The National Environmental Science Program (NESP) recognises and values the experiences, perspectives and cultures of Indigenous Australians. It supports Indigenous aspirations to maintain, protect and manage their culture, language, land and sea Country, and heritage.
Program researchers are working with Indigenous experts and Traditional Owner groups to help achieve improved on-ground outcomes for the environment. This involves caring for land and sea Country and embedding Indigenous knowledge systems into the protection of biodiversity, including helping threatened species. This booklet showcases some of the research and partnerships. It highlights some of the key outcomes achieved by the program across the 5 years to 2020.
Indigenous collaboration highlights
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Indigenous groups across the world face many challenges in managing their land including rapidly growing threats to significant habitats and species. In Kakadu, the Northern Australia Environmental Resources Hub has responded to this challenge by working with Traditional Owners, rangers and young people to co-design and use innovative technologies. Together they have developed new ways to apply science and Indigenous knowledge to co-manage this unique World Heritage area. This has led to a 50–60% reduction in invasive para grass and the return of nearly 1800 magpie geese.
Cross-cultural communication for climate change information
Traditional knowledge is helping the program understand the past and current changes to our climate.
The Earth Systems and Climate Change Hub released a report on Co-design, cross-cultural communication and climate change: considerations for engaging with First Nations peoples. The report provides a summary of important considerations for co-designing climate change-related research projects with First Nations peoples.
Techniques to care for sea Country
Traditional Owner organisations are partnering with reef scientists from the Tropical Water Quality Hub to implement innovative solutions for restoring reef and coastal ecosystems in caring for their land and sea Country.
This includes innovative techniques to control the coral-eating crown-of-thorns starfish, with young people – including many reef Traditional Owners – being trained in starfish control. These techniques are helping to improve the health of the Great Barrier Reef.
Improving cities for people and for biodiversity
Embedding Indigenous knowledge systems in urban research and practice is an important way to improve cities for people and for biodiversity.
The Clean Air and Urban Landscapes Hub and the Tropical Water Quality Hub collaborated to develop the Three-Category Approach toolkit to guide cross-cultural work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and organisations. The toolkit is helping change the way urban professionals consider their community engagement models and understand the opportunities of co-designing projects with Indigenous peoples.
Working with fire
Effective management of fire is important for cultural values and resources, and biodiversity. Threatened Species Recovery Hub projects are supporting Indigenous fire managers to undertake research that will help address their questions and support improved fire management. Examples of this include the important work of Bardi Jawi, Nyul Nyul and Yawuru’s to protect monsoon vine thickets on the Dampier Peninsula and Karajarri’s desert fire program.
Surveying and monitoring the greater bilby
The greater bilby (Macrotis lagotis) is an iconic Australian marsupial known for its conservation significance and high cultural importance to Traditional Owners.
The Threatened Species Recovery Hub and the Northern Australia Environmental Resources Hub have each worked with Traditional Owners, Indigenous rangers and pastoralists in the Western Deserts and West Kimberley to develop and establish locally implemented bilby monitoring programs. These programs are based on traditional ecological knowledge and Indigenous tracking skills and are providing new evidence to guide bilby conservation strategies.
Seagrass restoration in Shark Bay
Shark Bay, or Gutharraguda (two-waters), is recognised on the World Heritage List as a place of exceptional natural features. The Marine Biodiversity Hub is working to assist the recovery of seagrass meadows lost following the extreme marine heatwave in 2010–11. Working together with Malgana Indigenous rangers, the hub is combining western science and traditional knowledge in trials of many different seagrass restoration methods. This includes measuring signs of ecosystem recovery such as plant survival and the presence of invertebrates and fish.