Project 12.1 'Indigenous co-management and biodiversity protection'

Project 12.1 'Indigenous co-management and biodiversity protection'

Planning systems, governance structures and institutions that capture the traditional knowledge and associations of Indigenous peoples into biodiversity decision-making and management remain elusive. Key planning initiatives in the Wet Tropics region have advanced the institutional capability to engage Indigenous peoples into biodiversity management, including the Wet Tropics Regional Agreement, the Aboriginal Cultural and Natural Resource Management Plan, several Indigenous Land Use Agreements (ILUA), and the nomination for national heritage listing of the Aboriginal cultural values. Nevertheless, both government agencies and the Rainforest Aboriginal Peoples identify that a gap remains between the current status and aspirations for equitable co-management arrangements of conservation areas, including the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area (WTWHA). The Girringun, Eastern Kuku-Yalanji, and Mandingalbay Yidinji Indigenous Protected Area (IPA) consultation projects underway are showing potential as an effective means of capturing Indigenous knowledge and values into conservation decision-making and management. IPAs may provide a means to integrate rightsrecognition (through ILUA and native title), cultural-values recognition (through heritage listing) and engagement in management (through NRM arrangements) as an effective platform for co-management. On the other hand, Traditional Owners are also engaging with national park management planning in the wet tropics region, and opportunities exist to make these collaborations more effective in delivering mutual benefits for biodiversity conservation and integration of Indigenous rights, cultural knowledge and management practices. This project will undertake co-research with Indigenous peoples and protected area managers to further investigate the potential of IPA and other collaborative models and tools to engage Indigenous values and world views, and to identify the conditions under which these arrangements lead to effective protected-area joint management

The overall goal of the project is to interrogate the capability of Indigenous Protected Areas, and other collaborative planning models and mechanisms, to provide the means for recognition of Indigenous knowledge and values, and joint management of the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area between Governments and Rainforest Aboriginal people, in partnership with communities.

Project outputs at a glance

  • Develop and test effective approaches to collaborative governance, planning and co-management of Indigenous Protected Areas.  Outcome:  Enhanced capacity of Traditional Owners and Wet Tropics World Heritage managers to engage equitably in protected area governance, planning and management.
  • Evaluate and assess conditions under which Indigenous Protected Areas and other collaborative mechanisms are effective.  Outcome:  Clear justification of and conditions for IPA and cogovernance models to deliver joint management of the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area.
  • Consider implications for Australia’s national and international biodiversity and cultural conservation obligations.  Outcome:  Enhanced capacity of Australian and Queensland Governments to deliver national and international obligations to recognise traditional knowledge and associations of Indigenous people into biodiversity management and decision-making.

Specific objectives and intended outputs of this Project are detailed in the NERP TE Hub Multi-Year Research Plan.

Final Report

Desktop review of co-management pathways in Cape York Peninsula. An assessment of support for structures, processes and results that enable Aboriginal Peoples and their partners to work towards co-management of country

Final Factsheets

1 Why collaborative governance is critical for managing the natural and cultural values of wet tropics country

2 How knowledge networks can improve collaborative governance across wet tropics country

3 How would value-adding to Indigenous Protected Areas improve management of wet tropics country?

4 What are the benefits of collaborative governance of wet tropics country?

5 Why Indigenous Land Use Agreements need collaboration not regulation to manage wet tropics country

6 Why Native Title Corporations and Local Governments will benefit from planning together to adapt to changes in wet tropics country

7 Why biocultural diversity and governance are important to mapping Indigenous cultural ecosystem services

Technical Reports

Framework analysis: towards Indigenous co-management and biodiversity in the Wet Tropics

Participatory evaluation of co-management in wet tropics country, Interim report - December 2013

Indigenous peoples and biodiversity protection in wet tropics country: from co-management to collaborative governance Volume 1 Interim policy-relevant findings

Indigenous peoples and biodiversity protection in wet tropics country: from co-management to collaborative governance Volume 2 Participatory evaluation results

Project Updates

See February 2012 Project Highlights here.


Link to the Project 12.1 homepage on e-Atlas


Project Duration: 
1 Jul 2011 to 31 Dec 2014


Project People

Project Outputs