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Collaborative research partnerships inform monitoring and management of aquatic ecosystems by Indigenous rangers

Dobbs, Rebecca J., Davies, Christy L., Walker, Michelle L., Pettit, Neil E., Pusey, Bradley J., Close, Paul G., Akune, Yoshi, Walsham, Ninjana, Smith, Brendan, Wiggan, Albert, Cox, Preston, Ward, Douglas P., Tingle, Fiona, Kennett, Rod, Jackson, Micha V., Davies, Peter M.
Reviews in fish biology and fisheries 2016 v.26 no.4 pp. 711-725
aquatic ecosystems, case studies, cooperative research, ecosystem management, environmental management, interviews, monitoring, questionnaires, research programs, stakeholders, viability, wetlands, Western Australia
Aquatic ecosystems are critical to the long-term viability and vibrancy of communities and economies across northern Australia. In a region that supports significant cultural and ecological water values, partnerships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous stakeholders can benefit aquatic ecosystem management. We present, as a case study from the Kimberley region of Western Australia, a collaborative research program that successfully documented Indigenous and Western Scientific knowledge of remote wetlands, using a variety of field-based activities, questionnaires, interviews and workshops. The sharing of knowledge between Indigenous and non-Indigenous research partners facilitated a comprehensive understanding of ecosystem values, threats, processes, management priorities and aspirations. These formed the basis of a management plan and monitoring tools, designed to build the capacity of an Indigenous ranger group to engage in research, monitoring and management of wetlands. The project provides a useful example of the benefits of collaborations in the context of remote-area management where local communities are responsible for environmental management and monitoring, such as is the case in northern Australia and presumably other areas of the world.