Research to support the north’s Indigenous Protected Areas

Indigenous Protected Areas (IPAs) are areas of land or sea country where the natural and cultural values are actively conserved and managed by Traditional Owners to the benefit of all Australians. In collaboration with IPA managers and research stakeholders across northern Australia, the Northern Hub project team undertook literature reviews, interviews and workshops to identify research priorities for IPAs. The priorities were found to be context-dependent, integral to priorities for Indigenous land management (ILM) broadly, and focused on multiple values of and benefits from country. These priorities are for research that: 1. Uses models that enable Indigenous people to be centrally involved and gain greater benefit from research; 2. Better values the economic contributions of ILM; 3. Enables both Indigenous knowledge and science to be more accessible and useful to Indigenous decision makers; 4. Supports ILM to be more financially sustainable; and 5. Develops participatory methods that enable protection of country in response to new impacts such as development proposals. The priorities are now guiding new Northern Hub research activities. For further information, please see the project factsheet or report, or contact the project leaders, CSIRO’s Ro Hill and NAILSMA’s Melissa George.

Complementary project work examined the broad types of social, economic and cultural benefits of IPAs and how these have been valued. It found that some benefits are much more easily, and therefore frequently, quantified than other benefits that may be just as important. Unquantified benefits are often overlooked by decision-makers, so to address this valuation gap, researchers need to work closely with Indigenous land managers to determine the valuation techniques best suited to meet local needs. A new project will investigate this further, and include an examination of the benefits of different types of Indigenous land management programs (ILMPs), of businesses and knowledge sharing associated with ILMPs, and of how money generated from ILMPs flows in local economies. You can read a summary of the economic values study, the full report, or contact project leader Natalie Stoeckl.

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