Biodiversity values and Indigenous livelihoods

This project supports land-based Indigenous livelihoods in northern Australia. The researchers collaborated with Indigenous Cultural and Natural Resource Management (ICNRM) agencies in the NT and Queensland to:

  • improve understanding of the wider set of co-benefits (social, cultural, economic, political, and health benefits) derived from ICNRM;
  • investigate alternative investment models for resourcing ICNRM;
  • establish ICNRM governance frameworks, management plans, and monitoring and evaluation plans;
  • produce innovative characterisations of contemporary ICNRM knowledge, customary resource use, and governance options; and
  • create novel indigenous community research and communication products, including art exhibitions, a collaborative documentary, and IPA Management Plan interpretations.

Sustainable livelihoods and sustainably-managed landscapes in Northern Australia are vital for Indigenous communities and for the nation as a whole. Indigenous land owners and managers need to be able to respond to environmental threats and in doing so, meet important socio-economic needs and objectives.

Research that supports land-based Indigenous livelihoods and associated governance of natural and cultural resources helps local land owners and managers. It also assists policy makers in government departments improve policies and programs in the sector, and assists public and private investors understand the value that their investment in ICNRM is generating.

The research team collaborated with Indigenous community partners on diverse project activities, including:

  • generating community-based plans and governance frameworks;
  • undertaking interviews, focus groups, and workshops on key topics;
  • co-creating multi-media: films, art installations and posters;
  • participating in field trips to important places for planning, management and research; and
  • scoping new opportunities for collaboration.

The project enabled a range of existing research partnerships to continue, and established new ones. These have supported ongoing work.

The project has produced diverse outputs that can communicate with a range of audiences and are effective for a range of applications. These outputs include research and policy publications, management tools, submissions to government enquiries, and communication and outreach products. The project has produced a large number of publications available from this site.

The project was focused on a series of Indigenous Cultural and Natural Resource Management (ICNRM) agencies and associated communities in the Northern Territory and Queensland, with outreach research activities involving national and international contacts.

Key focal ICNRM agencies and/or communities included the:

  • Yolngu people from the Yirralka Rangers in Blue Mud Bay, northeast Arnhem Land
  • Yugul Mangi people from Ngukurr and the southwestern Gulf of Carpentaria
  • Waanyi/Garawa people from the southwestern Gulf of Carpentaria
  • Kowanyama people from Kowanyama, north Queensland
Marthakal Indigenous Protected Area NT (poster)
Gumurr Marthakal Rangers - Limurrung Djama (poster)

The research partners in the project were CSIRO, the Australian National University, and Tamarind Consulting. Indigenous partners in the project included:

  • Buku Larrnggay Mulka Arts Centre, Yirrkala, Arnhem Land;
  • Djelk IPA, Arnhem Land;
  • Garawa Rangers, Gulf of Carpentaria;
  • Garawa Aboriginal Land Trust, Gulf of Carpentaria;
  • Gudanji people, Gulf of Carpentaria;
  • Gumurr Marthakal IPA, Arnhem Land;
  • Jandanku Aboriginal Land Trust;
  • Kowanyama Land and Natural Resource Management Office, Cape York;
  • Laynhapuy Homelands Aboriginal Corporation, Arnhem Land;
  • Mambaliya, Rrumburriya, Wuyaliya Aboriginal Land Trust; Gulf of Carpentaria;
  • Mara Aboriginal Land Trust; Gulf of Carpentaria;
  • The Mulka Project, Yirrkala, Arnhem Land;
  • Narwinbi Aboriginal Land Trust; Gulf of Carpentaria;
  • Numbulwar Numburindi Amalahgayag Inyung Rangers; South East Arnhem Land Numbulwar Homelands Association; Numbulwar,  South East Arnhem Land;
  • Waanyi/Garawa Aboriginal Land Trust, Gulf of Carpentaria;
  • Waanyi/Garawa Rangers, Gulf of Carpentaria;
  • Waralungku Arts; Borroloola, NT;
  • Warddeken IPA, Arnhem Land;
  • Wurralibi Aboriginal Land Trust; Gulf of Carpentaria;
  • Yanyula people, Gulf of Carpentaria;
  • Yirralka Rangers, Yirrkala, Arnhem Land;
  • Yugul Mangi Development Aboriginal Corporation: Ngukurr, Gulf of Carpentaria; and
  • Yugul Mangi Land & Sea Rangers, South East Arnhem Land.

Project Contact:
Dr Marcus Barber
[email protected]

  • Female Yirralka Ranger making soap at Baniyala ranger station
  • Napuwarri Marawili, Makungun Marika, and Gawaratj Munungurr on sea patrol
  • Yirralka Rangers participating in a funeral at Baniyala homeland
  • Ranger Facilitator Gurrundul Marawili painting a hollow log
  • Male rangers on sea patrol
  • Baniyala community leader Djambawa Marawili and Ishmael Marika from the Mulka Project filming 'Rangers in Place'