This research shows that well-designed ILSMPs can:
It also highlights that we need better methods to measure and value goods and services which deliver benefits beyond face value, and which benefit communities rather than individuals.
Indigenous land and sea management programs (ILSMPs) are gaining a reputation for providing a core function in communities, with growing evidence of a variety of environmental, cultural, social and economic outcomes being delivered. This research provides quantified and comparable information about multiple, local to national scale socio-economic and wellbeing benefits associated with ILSMPs.
It is important that governments, Indigenous organisations, industry and others fully recognise these benefits and that appropriate data are collected to better measure them, otherwise ILSMPs may be undervalued and overlooked in investment and development decisions.
In addition to their well-known environmental outcomes, ILSMPs generate a range of socio-economic benefits, from those that flow to individuals to those that benefit society, and from simple benefits (e.g. jobs) to complex (e.g. maintenance of culture). Methods to economically value these benefits are still developing and different methods are suited to assessing different types of benefits. Current commonly used methods are adept at highlighting the value of simple individual goods, and there has been recent progress in tools to value complex individual goods. Better methods are however urgently needed to estimate the value of complex goods and services that benefit whole communities, such as those provided by ILSMPs, or we risk simply investing in those that are easy to measure rather than those providing the greatest benefits.1
This research has contributed to improving methods by elucidating these limitations (Figure 1) and by adapting the ‘life satisfaction’ approach – a method that measures the contribution of selected factors to an individual’s wellbeing – to assess the value to communities of complex goods related to ILSMPs.8 We are also investigating other methods such as the Participatory Project Selection Tool.6
ILSMPs can generate national benefits by stimulating regional economies and achieving the government policy objective of equitably closing the income gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people. By providing greater economic benefits to Indigenous households than other investments, ILSMPs can support the creation of self-sustaining Indigenous economies (Figure 2).
These programs also improve Indigenous wellbeing by improving things that many Indigenous people feel are important – particularly caring for country, providing access to country, having positive role models in the community, and knowledge exchange. ILSMPs can also enable communities to meet wider aspirations by overcoming constraints and structural barriers to development. When ILSMPs empower communities they can also help close the ‘governance’ gap.
ILSMPs contribute to northern development and help close the gap2
ILSMPs promote Indigenous business development and economic independence3
ILSMPs promote Indigenous wellbeing4
ILSMPs facilitate knowledge exchange, which is important to Indigenous wellbeing7
ILSMPs can help Indigenous communities meet their wider aspirations5
|Industry||Kimberley||Northern Territory||Far north Qld|
|Accommodation & food services||1.9||2.4||2.5|
Table 1. Economic multipliers for ILSMPs are higher than those for some other major industries. The numbers show how much $1 of investment multiplies through the regional economies.
Proving the effectiveness of ILSMPs is crucial to secure continued funding, but current monitoring typically doesn’t adequately track progress towards ILSMP socio-economic objectives and related benefits. Data to measure progress is limited, with monitoring mostly focussing on activity rather than outcomes, and on individual benefits rather than community benefits. Monitoring and reporting also need to better account for the time lag between investment and some socio-economic outcomes.
1. Stoeckl N, Hicks C, Farr M, Grainger D, Esparon M & Larson S. 2018. The crowding out of complex social goods. Ecological Economics 144: 65-72. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ecolecon.2017.07.021
2. Jarvis D, Stoeckl N, Hill R & Pert P. 2018a. Indigenous Land and Sea Management Programmes: Can they promote regional development and help ‘Close the (income) Gap’? Australian Journal of Social Issues https://doi.org/10.1002/ajs4.44
3. Jarvis D, Stoeckl N, Addison J, Larson S, Hill R, Pert P, & Watkin-Lui F. 2018b. Are Indigenous Land and Sea Management Programs a pathway to Indigenous economic independence? The Rangeland Journal https://doi.org/10.1071/RJ18051
4. Larson S, Stoeckl N, Jarvis D, Addison J, Prior S & Esparon M. 2018. Using measures of wellbeing for impact evaluation: proof of concept developed with an Indigenous community undertaking land management programs in northern Australia. AMBIO https://doi.org/10.1007/s13280-018-1058-3
5. Addison J, Stoeckl N, Larson S, Jarvis D, Bidan Aboriginal Corporation, Bunuba Dawangarri Aboriginal Corporation RNTBC, Ewamian Aboriginal Corporation, Gooniyandi Aboriginal Corporation RNTBC, Yanunijarra Ngurrara Aboriginal Corporation RNTBC & Esparon M. 2019. The ability of community based natural resource management to contribute to development as freedom, and the role of access. World Development 120: 91-104 https://doi.org/10.1016/j.worlddev.2019.04.004
6. Grainger, D. & Stoeckl, N. 2019. The importance of social learning for non-market valuation. Ecological Economics 164: 106339. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ecolecon.2019.05.019
7. Jarvis, D., Stoeckl, N., Larson, S., Grainger, D., Addison, J. & Larson, A. 2020. The Learning Generated Through Indigenous Natural Resources Management Programs Increases Quality of Life for Indigenous People – Improving Numerous Contributors to Wellbeing. Ecological Economics. 2020. ISSN 0921-8009. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ecolecon.2020.106899.
8. Grainger D, Jarvis D, Larson S & Stoeckl N. Can the life-satisfaction approach be used to ‘value’ Indigenous land and sea management programs?
The Northern Australia Environmental Resources Hub addressed key research questions to come up with practical, on-ground solutions to some of the north’s most complex environmental challenges. A transdisciplinary research approach has been at the heart of the hub. Integrating key research users – policy-makers and land managers including Traditional Owners and ranger groups – into the co-design of research projects has led to rapid uptake of research outcomes into land management practices and decision-making. The hub has produced this wrap-up video outlining these impacts from the perspectives of research users.
Jarvis, D., Stoeckl, N., Larson, S., Grainger, D., Addison, J. & Larson, A. The Learning Generated Through Indigenous Natural Resources Management Programs Increases Quality of Life for Indigenous People – Improving Numerous Contributors to Wellbeing. Ecological Economics, 2020, 106899,
ISSN 0921-8009. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ecolecon.2020.106899.
Camp, E., Spencer-Smith, T., Chapple, R., Eccles, S., Spindler, R. and Varcoe, T., 2020. Healthy People in a Healthy Environment: Key Directions Statement. Australian Committee for IUCN, Sydney.
Larson, S., Stoeckl, N., Jarvis, D., Addison, J., Grainger, D., Watkin Lui, F., Walalakoo Aboriginal Corporation, Bunuba Dawangarri Aboriginal Corporation RNTBC, Ewamian Aboriginal Corporation RNTBC and Yanunijarra Aboriginal Corporation RNTBC. 2019. Indigenous Land and Sea Management Programs (ILSMPs) Enhance the Wellbeing of Indigenous Australians, International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 17 (1),125. https://www.mdpi.com/1660-4601/17/1/125.
Grainger, D. & Stoeckl, N (2019). The importance of social learning for non-market valuation. Ecological Economics 164: 106339. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ecolecon.2019.05.019
Addison, J., Stoeckl, N., Larson, S., Jarvis, D., Bidan Aboriginal Corporation, Bunuba Dawangarri Aboriginal Corporation RNTBC, Ewamian Aboriginal Corporation RNTBC, Gooniyandi Aboriginal Corporation RNTBC, Yanunijarra Ngurrara Aboriginal Corporation RNTBC & Esparon, M. (2019). The ability of community based natural resource management to contribute to development as freedom and the role of access. World Development 120: 91-104, ISSN 0305-750X, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.worlddev.2019.04.004.
Project leader Professor Natalie Stoeckl provides an update as the Multiple benefits of Indigenous land and sea management programs project nears its conclusion. This talk was presented at the TNRM conference, November 2018.
Jarvis D, Stoeckl N, Addison J, Larson S, Hill R, Pert P, Lui FW. 2018. Are Indigenous land and sea management programs a pathway to Indigenous economic independence? The Rangeland Journal, https://doi.org/10.1071/RJ18051
Gerritsen, R., Whitehead, P., & Stoeckl, N. 2018. Economic Development Across the North: Historical and Current Context of Possible Alternatives. In Russell-Smith, J., James, G., Pedersen, H., & Sangha, K. K. (Eds.). 2018. Sustainable land sector development in northern Australia: Indigenous rights, aspirations, and cultural responsibilities. The modelling work underpinning this chapter is detailed in the paper Indigenous land and sea management programs: Can they promote regional development and help “close the (income) gap”? available at https://doi.org/10.1002/ajs4.44
Jarvis D, Stoeckl N, Hill R & Pert P. 2018. Indigenous land and sea management programs: Can they promote regional development and help “close the (income) gap”? Australian Journal of Social Issues. 00:1–21. doi: 10.1002/ajs4.44.
Larson S, Stoeckl N, Jarvis D, Addison J, Prior S & Esparon M. 2018. Using measures of wellbeing for impact evaluation: Proof of concept developed with an Indigenous community undertaking land management programs in northern Australia. Ambio https://doi.org/10.1007/s13280-018-1058-3
The project was by Professor Natalie Stoeckl from James Cook University (JCU) and University of Tasmania. Professor Stoeckl was assisted by JCU’s Jane Addison, Diane Jarvis, Michelle Esparon, Daniel Grainger, Marina Farr and Silva Larson.
Representatives from the five communities where the research is being undertaken – Sharon Prior, Brendan Fox, Peter Murray, Steve Heggie, Melinda Sheppard, Damian Parriman, Vaughan Duncan, Lynette Shaw and Chantelle Murray – also provided assistance such as sourcing data and cultural brokering.
In WA, this project partnered with Bunuba, Gooniyandi, Yanunijarra and Nyikina-Mangala Traditional Owners. In Queensland, this project partners with Ewamian Traditional Owners.
This project was completed in 2019.