Confirmation of Candidature presentation: Contemporary measures of success in Indigenous land and sea management

Confirmation of Candidature presentation: Contemporary measures of success in Indigenous land and sea management

Tue, 03/12/2013 - 12:00


About the Presenter

Jennifer Macdonald

Jennifer Macdonald is a PhD student with the Research Institute for the Environment and Livelihoods (RIEL) at CDU, working on a project investigating contemporary measures of success in Indigenous land and sea management.

The project will work in collaboration with Indigenous co-researchers to understand and help articulate aspirations for land and sea management at two sites in Australia, to come up with a better tool for monitoring the management effectiveness of Indigenous land and sea management. Jen’s PhD is part of an ARC-funded project titled Integrating Measures of Indigenous Land and Sea Management Effectiveness.

Before moving to Darwin, Jen worked as a research assistant for an Indigenous social research consultancy in Melbourne; ran a computer room in Papunya, a remote Indigenous community in central Australia; and did an internship on turtle and dugong management policy at the Cape York Institute for Policy and Leadership in Cairns. She has a Bachelors degree in Science, majoring in Geography, and wrote her Honours thesis on the water rights and interests of Indigenous people in river conservation legislation in Queensland.


Venue

Charles Darwin University
Ellengowan Drive
Building Red 1.2.32
Casuarina NT 0810
Australia

There is currently a rapidly growing workforce of Indigenous land and sea managers working on and caring for country, on Indigenous-owned land, public lands and private land across Australia. While the contemporary context of ecological degradation and loss of species has presented new priorities and challenges to Indigenous people and their role in caring for country, this context has also drawn government, non-government and private sector support for Indigenous land and sea management (Weir et al., 2011). These players nevertheless have widely differing motivations for supporting Indigenous land management (Whitehead et al., 2000). While Indigenous people have engaged in land management on a (semi)-commercial level because it has met their ongoing cultural obligations to protect and enhance connections to their traditional country, for the external investors it tends to be the emergent properties of Indigenous land management – conserved biodiversity, reduced Indigenous health costs, lower greenhouse gas emissions - that are often desirable.

The financial investment provided to Indigenous land and sea managers by governments, non-government organisations and the private sector is often burdened with demands for increased accountability and monitoring programs. These monitoring programs demonstrate natural and cultural resource management (NCRM) ‘outcomes’. The emphasis of the monitoring programs tends to be on assessing biophysical performance, rather than on social and cultural outcomes and processes (Stacey et al. 2013). Predetermined indicators are often used without considering their local applicability (Mahanty et al. 2007), a point particularly pertinent to Indigenous communities, each of which have unique cultures, histories, languages, and methods of learning and transmitting information, as well as particular issues such as language barriers (Mahanty et al. 2007).

There is a need to fully recognise, incorporate and support Indigenous values, interests and outcomes in land and sea management, alongside those of partnering organisations, because the effective management of country is dependent on the values, interests and capabilities of its Aboriginal landowners. This recognition of Indigenous perspectives is part of a process of recognising and validating both Indigenous and non-Indigenous worldviews and knowledge systems, as well as a recognition of the authority of long-term place-based grounded local empirical knowledge in land and sea management.

This PhD aims to work in collaboration with Indigenous co-researchers to understand and articulate an Indigenous ontology as it relates to Indigenous land and sea management in the contemporary context so as to elicit, compare and explore practical measures of success for management. This will be achieved through identifying and articulating Indigenous perspectives and aspirations for land and sea management independent of pressure to conform to dominant culture expectations, as well as Indigenous ways of measuring the success of their land and sea management.

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