Monitoring to Learn, Learning to Monitor: A Critical Analysis of Opportunities for Indigenous Community-Based Monitoring of Environmental Change ...

 
bs_bs_banner

Monitoring to Learn, Learning to Monitor: A
Critical Analysis of Opportunities for Indigenous
Community-Based Monitoring of Environmental
Change in Australian Rangelands
NATHANAEL D. WISEMAN* and DOUGLAS K. BARDSLEY
Geography, Environment and Population, The University of Adelaide, Adelaide, SA 5005, Australia.
*Corresponding author. Email: nathanael.wiseman@adelaide.edu.au

                       Received 4 December 2014; Revised 4 August 2015; Accepted 30 August 2015

               Abstract
               Indigenous community-based monitoring has been a central feature in many
               international attempts to improve monitoring of and local adaptation to environ-
               mental change. Despite offering much promise, Indigenous community-based
               monitoring has been underutilised in natural resource management in Australia,
               particularly within the remote, semi-arid rangelands. This paper discusses con-
               textual social and environmental factors that may help to explain this apparent
               deficiency, before critically analysing key stakeholder perceptions of the roles for,
               and challenges of monitoring in the Alinytjara Wilurara Natural Resources Man-
               agement region in the north-west of South Australia. The analysis guides a
               discussion of responses to better integrate monitoring in general, and Indigenous
               community-based monitoring in particular, into regional environmental manage-
               ment approaches. We argue that community-based monitoring offers a range of
               benefits, including: better coordination between stakeholders; a heightened ability
               to detect and respond to climatic trends and impacts; the effective utilisation of
               Indigenous knowledge; employment opportunities for managing and monitoring
               natural resources; and improved learning and understanding of rangeland socio-
               ecological systems. Identified opportunities for spatial and temporal community
               monitoring designed for the Alinytjara Wilurara region could be of value to other
               remote rangeland and Indigenous institutions charged with the difficult task of
               monitoring, learning from, and responding to environmental change.

               KEY WORDS Indigenous; community-based monitoring; rangelands; natural
               resource management; South Australia

Introduction                                                 pensate Aboriginal Australians for the cultural
Australian remote Indigenous communities                     activities that they have or could provide. While
remain largely marginalised from the wealth of               that failure could be attributed to ignorance,
the broader Australian society (SCRGSP, 2014).               prejudice, fear, or greed in the past, arguably
The lack of opportunities for Aboriginal commu-              a new era of socio-cultural recognition and
nities is in large part linked to the inability of           self-determination sees the emerging challenges
the dominant socio-economic system and associ-               as largely linked to policy settings, governance,
ated institutions to recognise, value, and com-              and institutional arrangements and funding

52                                                               Geographical Research • February 2016 • 54(1):52–71
                                                                                       doi: 10.1111/1745-5871.12150
N.D. Wiseman and D.K. Bardsley: Rangelands Indigenous Community-Based Monitoring                          53

opportunities (Sutton, 2001; Robbins, 2010;               Most recently, the Australian Government’s
Altman and Kerins, 2012; Gorman and Vemuri,               Direct Action Climate Plan through the Carbon
2012). The recent Federal review on Overcoming            Farming Initiative Amendment Bill 2014 identi-
Indigenous Disadvantage notes that ‘Culture is a          fied a key role for carbon sequestration on Abo-
key aspect of Aboriginal and Torres Strait                riginal Traditional Lands (Commonwealth of
Islander wellbeing – not just knowledge and               Australia, 2014b). Again, however, it remains
practice of culture by Indigenous Australians, but        unclear how the significant risks to Indigenous
respect for that culture among the wider commu-           communities which sign contracts to biosequest
nity’ (SCRGSP, 2014, p5.4). That situation pre-           carbon will function, given the regularity of wild-
sents a challenge to governments, businesses, and         fires and droughts in their semi-arid landscapes.
non-government organisations (NGOs) that are              Improving livelihoods and NRM in remote Indig-
interested in overcoming social disadvantage and          enous communities of Australia will require new
incorporating Indigenous cultural interpretations         forms of policy support, including the specific
of country into environmental management in               recognition of Aboriginal biocultural roles in
Australia. It also generates the need for the devel-      environmental management based on a formal
opment and implementation of policy to com-               acknowledgement of the ongoing role of people in
pensate Indigenous Australians for the wealth             the interpretation and shaping of landscape
of their cultural activities, including those             (Sallenave, 1994; Bardsley et al., 2015; Pert
biocultural activities that monitor and manage            et al., 2015).
the environment within remote regions of the                 One vital mechanism that could direct public
country (Maffi and Woodley, 2012).                        and private funding to Indigenous communities
   Since the Council of Australian Governments            for improvements in environmental outcomes
(COAG) National Indigenous Reform Agreement               is investigated here, namely Indigenous
(Closing the Gap) in 2008, a string of policy             community-based monitoring of environmental
announcements by the Federal Government has               change. It is within that broader governance
been emphasising the necessity to overcome                context that this paper reviews the opportunities
Indigenous disadvantage, in part through im-              to support community-based monitoring to
proved opportunities for training and employment          improve NRM in the semi-arid rangelands of the
(COAG, 2008). However, the application of com-            Alinytjara Wilurara (AW) NRM region in the
prehensive, caring policy to help guide sustain-          north-west of South Australia (SA) (Figure 1).
able futures for remote Indigenous communities            The AW region covers over a quarter of a million
remain      highly problematic in Australia               square kilometres and, as a result, there are rela-
(Bardsley, 2015). Of immediate relevance to the           tively few people employed per area to manage
focus of this paper, there has been an increased          the region’s natural resources (Robins and
policy recognition of the importance of Indig-            Dovers, 2007; AW NRM Board, 2013). Within
enous natural resource management (NRM), and              the semi-arid region live approximately 3000
yet the links between such policies as the Indig-         people, mostly of Pitjantjatjara, Yankunytjatjara,
enous Protected Areas programme and the asso-             and Ngaanyatjaara descent, who refer to them-
ciated Working on Country Ranger programme                selves collectively as Anangu, which translates as
and improved socio-economic outcomes for                  ‘people’ in Pitjantjatjara language, and will be
remote communities remain uncertain, especially           the term used throughout this paper to refer to the
as Indigenous communities often struggle to               local Indigenous population (ABS, 2011, AW
access or maintain sufficient funding (URBIS,             NRM Board, 2011). The majority of the popula-
2012; Bardsley and Wiseman, 2012a; Davies                 tion lives in small remote towns in the relatively
et al., 2013; Commonwealth of Australia, 2014a;           wetter north of the region (which receives 200–
Moorcroft and Adams, 2014; Zander et al., 2014).          400 mm average annual rainfall), and to a lesser
In just one relevant example, the majority of             extent the coastal south. However, there is sig-
leadership roles in Indigenous Protected Areas            nificant seasonal and cultural migration between
in South Australia’s Anangu Pitjantjatjara                communities and to other areas of Australia, par-
Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands are held by non-              ticularly to Adelaide and Alice Springs, and to
Indigenous staff (Bardsley and Wiseman, 2012a),           other communities in the Northern Territory and
despite the Federal programme’s primary goal to           Western Australia, where Anangu territory has
‘Support Indigenous land owners to develop,               traditionally extended (Goddard, 2006). Between
declare and manage Indigenous Protected Areas             the North and South semi-arid sub-regions lies
on their lands’ (Australian Government, 2014).            the more arid and sparsely populated Great

© 2015 Institute of Australian Geographers
54                                                            Geographical Research • February 2016 • 54(1):52–71

Figure 1 Map of the AW NRM region indicating mean annual rainfall, seasonal rainfall dominance, and major community
locations.

                                                                           © 2015 Institute of Australian Geographers
N.D. Wiseman and D.K. Bardsley: Rangelands Indigenous Community-Based Monitoring                         55

Victoria Desert, with average annual rainfall gen-        ian ecosystems and associated communities (e.g.
erally less than 200 mm per annum (see                    Robinson et al., 2005; Ens et al., 2012a; 2012b),
Figure 1).                                                while central desert/rangelands regions have been,
   The aim of this paper is to analyse the chal-          by comparison, relatively poorly represented
lenges of effective Indigenous community-based            in the literature (for a notable exception, see
monitoring in the AW NRM region, and to iden-             Robinson et al., 2003).
tify opportunities for a broader role for local              Where monitoring of environmental change
Indigenous communities to monitor, learn about,           does occur in remote Australia, it is typically
and guide future sustainable management of                characterised by large-scale remote sensing (e.g.
regional rangeland ecosystems. Previous work              Bastin and the ACRIS-MC, 2008; Lawley et al.,
has identified the need for coordinated responses         2014) or small-scale and isolated expert field
to effectively monitor and respond to the emerg-          observations (e.g. Masters et al., 2003; White
ing socio-ecological risks to regional Indigenous         et al., 2012). These methods largely discount or
communities and has helped to guide AW NRM                ignore local and/or traditional knowledge, even
planning (Bardsley and Wiseman, 2012a; 2012b;             though such knowledge is recognised as highly
Wiseman and Bardsley, 2015). Accelerating                 significant in rangeland environments (Stafford-
global and local environmental risks, coupled             Smith, 2008; Waudby et al., 2013). As we have
with persistent social constraints necessitate            noted previously (Wiseman and Bardsley, 2015)
broad, resilient responses to learning to manage          and researchers such as Ens et al. (2012a; 2012b),
changing ecological systems, and community-               Robinson and Wallington (2012), and Muller
based monitoring needs to be seen a key part of           (2012; 2014) also highlight, where Indigenous
that process. Therefore, the discussion on the            people are included in monitoring, the focus has
roles of Indigenous community-based monitor-              predominantly been on formal NRM goals in
ing is developed in the context of environmental          Australia, rather than opportunities to evolve
change, which has had and is projected to con-            policy and action to meet broader Indigenous
tinue to have dramatic and non-linear impacts on          cultural interpretations of landscape and ecology.
local socio-ecosystems in the AW NRM region               That focus seems to assume that NRM planning
(Walker and Abel, 2002; Scheffer, 2009;                   and processes are sufficient for management of
Svenning and Sandel, 2013).                               country, and that local Indigenous interpretations
                                                          and management goals are secondary. There are
Indigenous community-based monitoring                     considerable ethical and socio-ecological limita-
Community-based monitoring of environmental               tions of that assumption, and as Muller (2014,
change is increasingly being recognised as                132) rightly emphasises, it overlooks ‘the need to
playing a vital role in strengthening knowledge,          respect and value both cultures and knowledges
providing employment, and facilitating local              equitably in a spirit of mutual respect and trust,
adaptation efforts in Indigenous communities              protecting and respecting both ways of learning’.
(Graham et al., 2000; Danielsen et al., 2005;             Moreover, unique cultural interpretations of what
Pelling and High, 2005; Berkes, 2012). Exam-              constitutes effective environmental management
ples of comprehensive Indigenous community-               are largely neglected by monitoring approaches
based monitoring programmes have now                      that concentrate on scientific interpretations of
been established in countries comparable to               places and systems (Coombes et al., 2014). The
Australia, including New Zealand (Jollands and            central role Indigenous community-based moni-
Harmsworth, 2007; Harmsworth et al., 2011;                toring can play in addressing these practical and
Hughey and Booth, 2012) and Canada (Berkes                ethical challenges is being recognised interna-
et al., 2007; Tremblay et al., 2008; Gearheard            tionally, and we review those approaches with the
et al., 2011; Parlee et al., 2012). Yet despite an        aim of identifying how community monitoring
expressed need for better integration of Austral-         could help to guide the evolution of environmen-
ian Indigenous understandings and observations            tal management within and for Indigenous com-
of environmental change (e.g. Petheram et al.,            munities of Australia, with a particular focus on
2010; Prober et al., 2011), documented examples           the remote AW NRM region.
of Australian Indigenous community-based
monitoring programmes are uncommon, inter-                Approaches to Indigenous community-based
mittent, and often limited in scope or duration.          monitoring
Where they do exist, these studies are predomi-           Participatory approaches to monitoring and man-
nantly focussed on monsoonal northern Austral-            aging natural resources acknowledge traditional

© 2015 Institute of Australian Geographers
56                                                                             Geographical Research • 2016

and/or local environmental knowledge as often         and Ward, 2001; Olsson et al., 2004). Moreover,
providing valid complementary perspectives to         institutions need to be open to the goals of envi-
Western science-driven knowledge (Gomez-              ronmental management changing to reflect the
Baggethun et al., 2013; Waudby et al., 2013;          knowledge generated by Indigenous monitoring.
Staddon et al., 2014; Tengö et al., 2014). Not        Many of the challenges and complexities of
only is better information being derived from the     community-based monitoring are enhanced
recognition of local knowledge as a core compo-       within the remote, marginal conditions of the
nent of any understanding of natural resource         rangelands (Lynam and Stafford Smith, 2004;
condition, but importantly, community-based           Gorman et al., 2008; Eyre et al., 2011; White
monitoring aims to simultaneously empower             et al., 2012).
local communities (Danielsen et al., 2005). Vital
human heritage associated with Indigenous adap-       Challenges of monitoring in the rangelands
tation to extreme environmental conditions,           Ecosystems within semi-arid rangelands are
while sustaining complex cultures, can be cham-       dependent upon extremely variable rainfall
pioned, supported materially, and constantly          events and consequent water flows (Ludwig and
regenerated through its use within environmental      Tongway, 1997; Stafford-Smith et al., 2009).
monitoring programmes (Graham et al., 2000;           This stochasticity both in space and in time pre-
Berkes, 2012). Such local involvement can be          sents difficulties for maintaining monitoring con-
particularly important when it is necessary to        sistency and detecting significant changes or
generate local ownership and understanding of         causal relationships (Ludwig and Tongway,
environmental change, and to facilitate the devel-    1996; Morton et al., 2011; White et al., 2012;
opment of both autonomous and externally sup-         Waudby et al., 2013). A difference of days
ported local climate change adaptation responses      between observations before or after major rain-
(Pelling and High, 2005; Bardsley and Rogers,         fall events can mean the difference between a
2011). Community-based monitoring aims to             landscape that appears degraded and one that is
interpret change and guide responses to environ-      lush and seemingly full of wildlife (Box et al.,
mental issues as an integral and regular part of      2008). The positioning of monitoring sites in the
local management activities often through             landscape can also give widely varying results
regular community practices such as hunting and       depending on differences in local water flow and
gathering (Gearheard et al., 2011; Ens et al.,        catchment-scale succession processes (Pringle
2012a; 2012b; Parlee et al., 2012).                   et al., 2006).
    Yet community-based monitoring is not an             A number of social challenges also constrain
uncontested or neutral concept. Participatory         community-based monitoring in rangeland envi-
approaches to monitoring are extremely diverse        ronments. Human populations are typically
in how they employ traditional, local, and scien-     sparsely distributed and distanced from centres
tific knowledge and in how monitoring and             of economic and political power (Reynolds et al.,
analysis are undertaken (Danielsen et al., 2009).     2007), making investment in long-term range-
As a situated practice, community-based moni-         lands monitoring a low priority at the national
toring can exacerbate existing social differences,    level (White et al., 2012). This disadvantage is
power relations, and inequalities according to        especially true for remote Aboriginal commu-
whom is accorded authority and what counts as         nities due to a combination of political, socio-
important knowledge for environmental manage-         economic, and cultural marginalisation within
ment (Staddon et al., 2014). The importance of        the wider society (HORSCATSIA, 2004;
collaboration and open participation in the           Burgess et al., 2005; Davies et al., 2008; AW
design, development, implementation, and evalu-       NRM Board, 2013): what Veland et al. (2013,
ation of the monitoring programme is essential if     323) term the ongoing ‘disaster of colonisation’.
power struggles and inequalities are to be            In many cases, the well-being of remote Indig-
addressed through empowered and mutually              enous communities could be seen to reflect the
respectful partnerships (Berkes et al., 2007;         condition of country (Burgess et al., 2005; Green
Jollands and Harmsworth, 2007; Leonard et al.,        and Minchin, 2014). Within the AW NRM
2013; Tengö et al., 2014). Ultimately, trust          region, the rangelands have changed dramati-
between different stakeholders is essential in this   cally since colonisation as a result of declining
process of shared learning and collaboration to       traditional fire management; loss of native biodi-
inform decisions about management of Indig-           versity; pastoral activities; and spreading inva-
enous lands (Baland and Platteau, 1996; Pretty        sive species (AW NRM Board, 2011, EPA,

                                                                   © 2015 Institute of Australian Geographers
N.D. Wiseman and D.K. Bardsley: Rangelands Indigenous Community-Based Monitoring                         57

2013). It is highly likely that global climate            munities at Yalata, Kampi-Nyapari, Kenmore
change will exacerbate such existing risks (Maru          Park, Ernabella, and Umuwa in 2014 (see
et al., 2012; Bardsley and Wiseman, 2012a). As            Figure 1). Importantly, this work was conducted
well as having direct impacts on people through           at the request of the Indigenous AW NRM Board,
heat stress, reduced water supplies, and increased        to identify future monitoring priorities in the
risk of disruptions to critical community infra-          region, and to compare existing monitor-
structure through fires and flooding, declining           ing programmes with best-practice Indigenous
environmental quality has weakened traditional            community-based monitoring in other places.
cultural ties to country (Wiseman and Bardsley,           This project forms part of a longer participatory
2013).                                                    research agenda developed with Anangu commu-
                                                          nities and AW NRM staff on regional approaches
Framing effective Indigenous monitoring of                to respond to environmental change (Bardsley
environmental change                                      and Wiseman, 2012b), which had identified that
Together, the environmental and social chal-              community-based monitoring of environmental
lenges outlined above conspire to both hinder the         condition remained a significant gap in regional
capacity for community-based monitoring in the            capacity.
rangelands and make learning from such envi-                 International Indigenous community monitor-
ronments slower and more difficult (Reynolds              ing procedures utilise traditional knowledge to
et al., 2007). That situation leads to the need for       varying degrees. The programmes can be typified
a strong understanding of effective approaches            along a spectrum of methodologies and goals:
for community monitoring of environmental                 with integrated monitoring providing depth and
change. Canadian, New Zealand, and Australian             cultural context to established science-based
case studies of successful Indigenous                     assessments at one end of a spectrum, while at
community-based monitoring are reviewed and               the other end, comprehensive community moni-
key themes identified that frame the approach             toring is initiated, developed, and implemented
taken according to what knowledge and technol-            by local people to support their own learning
ogies are utilised, who gathers and uses the data         and management interests (Jollands and
collected, and who is the primary beneficiary             Harmsworth, 2007; Danielsen et al., 2009;
from the approach (Table 1). It is not the inten-         Harmsworth et al., 2011; Hughey and Booth,
tion of this paper to attempt an exhaustive review        2012). The other vital spectrum for categorisa-
of the literature on these monitoring typologies          tion relates to the potential for empowerment of
(see Danielsen et al., 2014). Rather the review           local communities as defined by who benefits
allows for the development of a framework of              from the generation of the knowledge. The inter-
monitoring approaches, which is applied to criti-         section of the two axes represents a blend of both
cally review existing monitoring programmes in            local and external interests, and scientific and
the AW region and to generate arguments on                traditional knowledge. A small number of suc-
which particular monitoring approaches may be             cessful community-based monitoring projects
more or less appropriate.                                 are underway within the AW NRM region, which
   To develop the critique, in 2013 information on        suggests that particular methods and techniques
community-based monitoring in the AW NRM                  for community-based monitoring are being
region was accessed from published materials              implemented within the regions’ unique social
and interviews conducted with 14 regional stake-          and environmental contexts. These activities are
holders, including AW NRM staff (in both mana-            framed in relation to the international case
gerial and scientific/technical positions), AW            studies (Figure 2), and discussed in some detail
NRM Board Members (elected Anangu repre-                  in the fourth section, to highlight the need for
sentatives), and SA Government staff (scientific/         some approaches which aim to empower through
technical positions) in 2013. After ethical               the use of traditional knowledge.
approval though the University of Adelaide,
respondents were chosen based on their knowl-             AW NRM examples of Indigenous
edge of and involvement with existing monitor-            community-based monitoring
ing programmes in the AW NRM region, or, in               Native biodiversity is currently being monit-
the case of AW NRM Board Members, to iden-                ored in the AW NRM region, including cultur-
tify what future monitoring priorities they saw as        ally important species such as the Mallee
important for the region. The discussion also             Fowl (Leipoa ocellata), Black-footed Rock-
draws from workshops held within Anangu com-              wallaby (Petrogale lateralis), Sandhill Dunnart

© 2015 Institute of Australian Geographers
Table 1 Indigenous community-based monitoring of environmental change.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    58

                                               #    Source            Description                               Knowledge Used                  Technology Used                 Primary Data Gatherers                  Primary Users                  Who Benefits?

                                               A    Parlee et al.     Mapping and documenting perceptions       Blended TEK obtained            Observation and discussion      Primarily Indigenous people and         Indigenous people and          Cultural observation and
                                                      (2012)           of ecological change by Cree people        through interviews and                                          secondly external researchers           external researchers            understandings that have value for
                                                                       in Alberta, Canada                         participatory mapping                                         Analysis initiated externally                                             resilience within Indigenous
                                                                                                                  exercises                                                                                                                               communities, but there is no
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          indication that the data led to
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          livelihood improvements
                                               B    Tremblay          Monitoring ice and hunting trail          Blended TEK and scientific      Workshops and interviews,       Integrated study with Indigenous        Indigenous people and          Draws from cultural observations that
                                                      et al. (2008)    conditions by Indigenous groups in         knowledge developed from       ice monitoring stations           people and external researchers        external researchers            have direct value for communities,
                                                                       Nunavik, Quebec                            local observation and trail    and web-based                  Analysis initiated locally                                                as adaptation strategies are
                                                                                                                  mapping of risky areas         ethno-cartographic                                                                                       developed in association with
                                                                                                                                                 processes                                                                                                researchers to facilitate better trail
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          access, and improve climate-related
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          information
                                               C    Harmsworth        Developing a cultural health index of     Blended TEK developed           Observation-based data          Integrated study with Indigenous        Indigenous people and          Traditional knowledge and community
                                                      et al. (2011)     river catchments in New Zealand           from local observation          collection but integrated        people and external researchers        external researchers            observations used to determine the
                                                                        and integrating this with scientific      with other community and        with community                Cultural indices defined locally                                          health of cultural attributes
                                                                        assessments of the same catchments        scientific knowledge            assessments and                                                                                      Mostly for external interests to test
                                                                                                                                                  freshwater scientific                                                                                   catchment condition, but leads to
                                                                                                                                                  research                                                                                                financial incentives and stronger
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          representations of Indigenous values
                                               D    Ens et al.        Monitoring and controlling invasive       Blended TEK with scientific     Observation data, oral          Indigenous observation and scientific   Indigenous people and          Funding was conditional upon annual
                                                      (2012b)          feral animals around cultural sites in     knowledge                       interpretations; scientific     research undertaken by local            external researchers            monitoring of ecological outcomes.
                                                                       Arnhem Land, Australia, using both                                         transect, water quality,        Indigenous people, with external                                        Aim was to protect key billabongs
                                                                       traditional and scientific observation                                     photo point analysis            support                                                                 (wetlands) from invasive species for
                                                                       techniques                                                                                                                                                                         cultural purposes, particularly
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          hunting and gathering, as well as for
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          wider biodiversity, resources
                                               E    Gearheard         GPS monitoring of weather conditions,     Local observation given         PDA/GPS/mobile weather          Indigenous people (Inuit hunters)       Indigenous people (Inuit       Directly culturally relevant (mapping
                                                      et al. (2011)     trail networks, hazards, rubbish,         precedence –                    stations                      Monitoring indicators developed in        hunters), but currently         hunting trails, hazards, etc), but also
                                                                        animals, etc., by Inuit hunters           interpretations of what                                         collaboration among engineers,          requires support from           of use to external researchers in
                                                                                                                  constitutes a ‘hazard’, for                                     scientists, and Inuit hunters           external professionals to       monitoring environmental change
                                                                                                                  example, left up to local                                                                               map and use information         through changes in seasonal trail
                                                                                                                  Inuit observers                                                                                                                         use, etc.
                                               F    Berkes et al.     Climate change monitoring in western      Perceptions based on            Direct observation and          Indigenous people (Inuit hunters)       Indigenous people, but also    In the interests of Indigenous people to
                                                      (2007) –          Canadian Arctic by Inuit peoples,         Indigenous hunters of           note-taking                   Monitoring indicators developed by        external help in producing      demonstrate adverse impacts from
                                                      western           using locally developed indicators        change, including ability                                       Indigenous people                       communication media             climate change to local governments
                                                      Arctic                                                      to predict weather patterns                                                                             (video) and other
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          documentation
                                               G    Robinson          Monitoring and managing feral             Perceptions based on            Direct observation              Indigenous people (Jawoyn)              Indigenous people (Jawoyn)     Directly culturally relevant
                                                      et al. (2005)    animals based on cultural values of        Indigenous understanding                                      Monitoring indicators developed                                        Indigenous understandings of ‘good’
                                                                       Jawoyn people, Kakadu National             of ecosystem health and                                         informally by Indigenous people                                        versus ‘bad’ species sometimes
                                                                       Park, Australia                            cultural values of                                                                                                                     conflicted with external national
                                                                                                                  introduced species                                                                                                                     park managers
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       Shared interest in controlling feral pigs

© 2015 Institute of Australian Geographers
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Geographical Research • 2016

                                             GPS, Global Positioning System; PDA, Personal Digital Assistant; TEK, Traditional Ecological Knowledge.
N.D. Wiseman and D.K. Bardsley: Rangelands Indigenous Community-Based Monitoring                                              59

                                                         Traditional

                                              1
                      6

                                                                                       5

                                                                         7

                                                            Knowledges
     Local community                                                                                       External parties
                                                                                           3
                  2       4    A
                                                                             Who benefits?

                                                                                 B

                                                                         D                 C

                                                          Scientific

Figure 2 Comparison of effective Indigenous community-based monitoring activities with AW NRM projects according to
knowledge and beneficiaries. 1= Parlee et al., 2012 (Alberta, Canada; Cree); 2 = Tremblay et al., 2008 (Nunavik, Canada; Inuit);
3 = Harmsworth et al., 2011 (Motueka and Riwaka river catchments, New Zealand; Maori); 4 = Ens et al., 2012b (Arnhem Land,
Australia; Yugul Mangi and Manwurrk); 5 = Gearheard et al., 2011 (Nunavut, Canada; Inuit); 6 = Berkes et al., 2007 (Hudson
Bay, Canada; Inuit, Cree); 7 = Robinson et al., 2005 (Kakadu, Australia; Jawoyn). A = AW NRM, biodiversity monitoring;
B = AW NRM, camel monitoring; C = AW NRM, Buffel grass monitoring; D = AW NRM, coastal monitoring.

(Sminthopsis       psammophila),        Mulloway                             used to determine the spatial extent of vegeta-
(Argyosomus hololepidotus), whales, sea lions,                               tion types. The frequency of such monitoring
and coastal birds. There are also regular surveys                            activities is generally low, with most monitoring
of many other animal and plant distributions,                                programmes only repeating observations a few
focussing on the northern APY lands, southern                                times a year or less. Anangu are involved in
Yalata region, and central Oak Valley region                                 many of the current biodiversity monitoring pro-
(see Figure 1 for regions). The monitoring of                                grammes, helping to identify and record animal
animals employs a range of methods, including                                track sightings, and monitor species with impor-
tagging of individuals, setting pit traps, record-                           tant cultural significance (highlighted above).
ing animal tracks, and recording direct sightings                            Many of these biodiversity monitoring pro-
using Cybertracker Global Positioning System                                 grammes are highly popular with Anangu, offer-
(GPS) software, a digital, icon-based program                                ing opportunities to go out on country and
which allows real-time spatial recording of field                            maintain cultural connections to the land, as
data within low-literacy populations (Ens, 2012;                             well as some paid employment. It also provides
CyberTacker, 2014). For plants, a combination                                a sense of pride to Anangu that such work is
of direct field observation and remote-sensing is                            valued and supported from a Western/scientific

© 2015 Institute of Australian Geographers
60                                                                               Geographical Research • 2016

perspective. As one respondent noted of a moni-        ment using satellite collaring. Anangu are
toring programme:                                      employed to do survey work and mustering of
   I think the reason this project works so well is    camels in the APY Lands, both directly and
   that community members get really enthusi-          through contractual agreements with third
   astic about going out to monitor – it is their      parties, but further south (Marlinga Tjarutja and
   animals, on their land, their country. They are     Yalata) the process is more informal, with
   proud to look after their country. (Respondent      Anangu being asked to be involved in satellite
   6, 26/3/2013)                                       monitoring work as it arises. There remains a
                                                       significant gap between the understanding of
Past biodiversity surveys have also had strong         camel numbers and impacts, and their manage-
Anangu involvement in on-ground monitoring,            ment that largely aims to cull animals or remove
with close relationships formed between Western        them for meat.
scientists and Anangu, resulting in rich cross-
cultural experiences and knowledge generation             I don’t think we’ve adequately covered the
(see Robinson et al., 2003).The use of tools such as      monitoring needs at all. I think there are
Cybertracker was identified in the interviews             plenty of gaps. One is to, rather than trying to
as useful for communities undertaking monitor-            respond to the current situation, start looking
ing, particularly as photographs could be taken           at what the likely future holds. And we’re not
of land condition and shared with other commu-            doing that in terms of camel density, camel
nity members who might not have gone out                  habitat, and how climate change might affect
on country. For example, the AW NRM                       both of those. (Respondent 4, 26/3/2013)
Dreamweaver program has been successful in             There is also a conflict between the goal of
supporting women to undertake rockhole main-           rangeland management to reduce camel numbers
tenance and to guide mutual understanding of           as much as possible and the goals of many local
the importance of rockholes in the landscape           people to establish regimes of sustainable camel
(AW NRM Board, 2014). However, interview               harvesting to obtain a regular income.
respondents suggested that while generating
useful community engagement, the outcomes                 The problem we’ve got of course is particu-
were less valuable for informing scientific NRM.          larly on Aboriginal communities is we’re
There was a perceived difficulty in translating           always weighing up impact with potential
Indigenous perspectives of the environment into           benefit. You know the fact that APY in par-
forms useful for integrating with scientific              ticular a lot of people are receiving an income
knowledge and to meet cultural as well as NRM             from camel management so it’s always trying
policy goals.                                             to convince them that the impact is significant,
                                                          even if there is a benefit to be gained in
    We have the Dreamweaver program, which is             addressing that impact by mustering.
    doing some stuff around rockholes, women’s            (Respondent 4, 26/3/2013)
    sites and rockholes, getting people back to
    rockholes. It’s getting people connected to        Buffel grass monitoring has become much more
    country, which is an outcome, and it is a land     important in the last five years with the growing
    management outcome according to Anangu,            recognition of the ecological and social impacts
    and I agree with that. However, I think we         of this invasive species in the rangelands. As
    could sort of ‘upscale’ that program so it pro-    Buffel grass is highly rainfall dependent, current
    vides a clear framework for consistent             monitoring activities focus on identifying where
    methods of monitoring rockholes, and stra-         rain has occurred in the region and conducting
    tegic methods across the region, and that’s        site visits to determine the extent of Buffel grass
    where I want it to go. (Respondent 5, 26/3/        invasion, particularly in the south where Buffel is
    2013)                                              still not widespread. Rainfall data are obtained
                                                       from weather stations in the region, from local
   What Caring for Country looks like to               radio reports, and direct observation through
   Aboriginal women may be very different              community/staff networks. Monitoring of Buffel
   from a scientific perspective. (Respondent 7,       grass includes mapping the current range of
   15/4/2013)                                          establishment using GPS with ArcPad or
Camel monitoring in the AW region includes             Cybertracker, and monitoring post-control
assessing browsing impacts, aerial surveys of          growth and condition at regular intervals. At
camel density, and recordings of camel move-           present, Anangu are contracted to do some

                                                                     © 2015 Institute of Australian Geographers
N.D. Wiseman and D.K. Bardsley: Rangelands Indigenous Community-Based Monitoring                           61

monitoring of Buffel grass through community-                 Effective international and other national exam-
based monitoring programmes in Oak Valley and             ples of successful Indigenous monitoring reviewed
Yalata, using Cybertracker to locate Buffel grass         tend to use traditional knowledge comprehensively
sightings using GPS. Given the difficulties AW            and either independently (e.g. Berkes et al., 2007;
NRM staff have accessing such a large region              Parlee et al., 2012) or in conjunction with scien-
with limited capacity, there are recognised               tific knowledge (e.g. Tremblay et al., 2008; Ens
opportunities to expand community involvement             et al., 2012b) to inform both local and external
in monitoring Buffel grass:                               planning and action (Figure 2). In contrast, it can
                                                          clearly be seen that AW NRM regional monitoring
   [Communities are] there on-ground, they can            programmes prioritise scientific knowledge over
   do it every day of the week. And it’s hard for         local Indigenous knowledge, and generate that
   us to predict what’s happening up there. So I          knowledge primarily for external interests and
   think that would be the key for them to be             especially the institutional needs of the AW NRM
   doing it, and then fielding things back to us,         Board itself. There are some exceptions to this
   saying ‘hey we had an inch of rain’ or ‘it’s           general pattern; for example, biodiversity monitor-
   been dry’, you know, just that communication           ing in the AW NRM region has utilised a blend of
   about what they’re doing. And we’ll still con-         scientific and traditional knowledge, with strong
   tinue the support. (Respondent 14, 24/4/2013)          benefits for local communities. Furthermore, some
   The aim is to give communities the empow-              AW projects, such as Robinson et al.’s (2003)
   erment, the knowledge and the ability. That is         review of the regional ecology or the Dreamweaver
   very important, because at this stage it is the        project which supports Indigenous women’s
   communities who are most at threat.                    involvement in traditional NRM activities, clearly
   (Respondent 8, 24/4/2013)                              focus on utilising traditional knowledge for the
                                                          benefit of local communities, and have worked
Coastal monitoring in the AW NRM region                   closely with local Anangu in developing appro-
includes marine debris surveys, whale monitor-            priate knowledge. Yet, just as clearly, the integra-
ing, shorebird monitoring, mulloway tagging,              tion of Indigenous community-based monitoring
recreational fishing surveys, and marine mammal           is neither at the scale or scope necessary to gen-
sampling and dissection. While there have been            erate regular engagement between traditional
studies of cliff erosion and the link to climate          Anangu cultural knowledge and the management
change in the past, there is no current ongoing           of country, or provide a mechanism for linking
monitoring of cliff retreat. All coastal monitoring       biocultural understanding and activities to
programmes involve Anangu in some form,                   regular employment.
whether through employment as data collectors,                Discussions with AW NRM stakeholders
or in consultation to determine AW priorities             emphasised the problems with engaging with
along the coast. A new digital storytelling project       Indigenous communities for effective monitoring
aims to increase Anangu involvement by allow-             of environmental change, rather than the oppor-
ing communities to record their thoughts and              tunities. Part of the problem lies in the lack of
ideas.                                                    information on environmental conditions in the
   The communities purchase tablets, so we teach          vast, remote region, such that baseline informa-
   them the technology to use the tablets, and then       tion on rangeland condition is not available.
   skill those workers up through employment                 We’re trying to get a grip on what is ‘normal’,
   positions to capture the stories . . . through            with the realisation that climate change didn’t
   voice recording and film . . . [to see] if the            start last week when someone mentioned
   community thinks that we’re having an impact              it! . . . So there’s a lot of catching up to do,
   in the region and on the environment from                 and I guess that’s the difficulty of it at the
   management strategies. (Respondent 9,                     moment is to try and determine where your
   24/4/2013)                                                baselines are from which you can then, you
                                                             know, measure change. (Respondent 1,
The examples of Indigenous community moni-
                                                             5/3/2013)
toring are summarised using the same conven-
tions as the other case studies (Table 2) and             Historically, there have been a number of strong
represented against the spectra generated in the          ecological drivers of changing rangeland con-
context of the effective community-based moni-            dition including changes to fire management,
toring activities.                                        invasive species, grazing pressures, and climate

© 2015 Institute of Australian Geographers
62

                                             Table 2 Summary of local AW NRM monitoring activities.

                                              #     Source                Knowledge Used                Technology Used        Primary Data Gatherers        Primary Users                   Who Benefits?

                                              A     AW NRM                Mixture of Anangu and         Direct observation,    A mixture – Anangu are        Anangu use knowledge of         Anangu paid to undertake
                                                     biodiversity          scientific perspectives        GPS mapping,           involved in on-ground         species directly from field     monitoring work though
                                                     monitoring                                           on-ground and          monitoring, external          work, and external              community-based contracts
                                                                                                          aerial surveys         contractors involved in       institutions generally use    Work directly relevant to
                                                                                                                                 aerial monitoring             mapped data                     Anangu values and culture.
                                              B     AW NRM camel          Mixture of Anangu             Direct observation,    Mixture – Anangu involved     External institutions (state    Anangu paid to undertake
                                                     monitoring            perspective on camels and      GPS mapping,           in on-ground surveying,       and national)                   monitoring work
                                                                           scientific perspectives        aerial surveys         external contractors                                        Work directly relevant to
                                                                                                                                 involved in aerial                                            Anangu values and culture,
                                                                                                                                 surveying                                                     but also potentially at odds
                                                                                                                                                                                               with desire to muster for
                                                                                                                                                                                               economic benefit
                                              C     AW NRM Buffel         Science-led eradication       GPS, site              Scientists/technicians with   External institutions (AW       Anangu paid to undertake
                                                     grass monitoring       programme, with support       observations           support from Indigenous       NRM)                            monitoring work, but in
                                                                            from Anangu (concern                                 communities                                                   state/federal interest to
                                                                            over Buffel grass impact                                                                                           undertake control work
                                                                            on native species)
                                              D     AW NRM coastal        Currently science based       GPS tagging, field     Scientists/technicians with   External institutions           Some programmes (e.g.
                                                     monitoring                                          observations with       support from Indigenous       (regional, state)               mulloway tagging) in
                                                                                                         GPS                     communities                                                   community interest through
                                                                                                                                                                                               employment, some benefit
                                                                                                                                                                                               external institutions more
                                                                                                                                                                                             Whale monitoring is culturally
                                                                                                                                                                                               relevant.

                                             AW, Alinytjara Wilurara; GPS, Global Positioning System; NRM, natural resource management.

© 2015 Institute of Australian Geographers
                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Geographical Research • 2016
N.D. Wiseman and D.K. Bardsley: Rangelands Indigenous Community-Based Monitoring                            63

change, so the attribution of variations to envi-            We don’t have an overall monitoring strategy
ronmental condition to a particular cause is very            – it’s severely lacking – everyone’s doing
difficult.                                                   their own little bit and they’re fitting it in
    If we get the big fires, is that because there is        where they can. You know, it’s the other 50%
    a lack of a small fire mosaic, or is that a              of the equation obviously, but I think we give
    climate-induced thing, or is that a Buffel grass         it only about 5.5% value to the whole thing. I
    induced thing? So how do you then measure                think it should be driving the purpose of doing
    that and try and split it and pull it apart and          what you’re doing by measuring what you’ve
    say well this is a weather factor and this is a          achieved. Monitoring has always been the
    cultural factor and this is a new species intro-         poor cousin to the operational action at the
    duced into the area factor – it’s difficult!             other end of the stick. (Respondent 1,
    (Respondent 1, 5/3/2013)                                 5/3/2013)
Most respondents also raised the issue that they          There are also conflicting opinions about what
must constantly innovate to access funding as             are the major priorities for management and
baseline funding is limited (AW NRM Board,                monitoring. For example, conflicts exist between
2013), which means that monitoring approaches             community goals, which may, for example, focus
are constantly in flux, making long-term com-             on the sustainable management of hunted
parisons difficult or impossible. Thus, any con-          animals that are important to local communities,
sistent, long-term monitoring at the community            and State and Federal priorities that aim for the
level cannot be supported via prevailing funding          conservation of endangered species. As a result
mechanisms.                                               of this mismatch, traditional knowledge is often
    Speaking purely from past experience, I used          conceptualised as secondary to the core issues of
    to find it really frustrating because it was very,    scientific data gathering, assessment, and man-
    very hard to get money for monitoring. State          agement for specific NRM outcomes.
    government basically wasn’t interested in                Are we introducing the little species, where
    it . . . Quite often I was told when I was going         maybe what we need to do is actually
    for funding, I’d outline, trying to give them a          work on what the community want, which is
    lot of background of the project, and they’d             to get the more common ones back [e.g. red
    just say ‘oh no, we really need to see different         kangaroos]? But then you don’t get the
    projects’. So you’d have this situation where            funding to do that . . . because it’s not a
    each year you had to come up with something              national priority – there’s only so much
    new, which seemed a bit ridiculous. You had              money they can spend on things around Aus-
    to be innovative. Which doesn’t really work if           tralia so they’ll go for what they see as
    you’re trying to do long-term monitoring.                national priorities. (Respondent 3, 21/3/2013)
    (Respondent 2, 18/3/2013)
                                                          The mismatches in both management goals and
Indigenous people already engage with their
                                                          in what knowledge is required to support those
country in the long term and so support for their
                                                          goals make translating traditional knowledge to
involvement in generating and recording knowl-
                                                          inform science-based management difficult. On
edge through remote community employment
                                                          the other hand, monitoring programmes that
could avoid the short-term project-focus of much
                                                          focus on species important to both the AW NRM
historical rangeland monitoring. As has also been
                                                          Board and to Anangu communities, such as the
found in Canada (Sallenave, 1994), if remote
                                                          Mallee fowl, are well supported.
Indigenous communities can monitor local con-
ditions regularly and over the longer term,                  It may not be a monitoring activity per se, but
remote data generation can improve and the costs             the ability for old people to go out on country
of monitoring may actually decrease in relation              and see it, and say ‘well this is looking alright’
to current monitoring approaches.                            or ‘this isn’t looking alright’ – the support for
   There is still a lack of a coordinated and inte-          them to go out and do that has worked, but
grated approach to monitoring across the large               you don’t necessarily end up with what’s
region, which makes it difficult to interpret                called a ‘scientific’ outcome. You end up with
and synthesise information and understand                    people saying ‘yeah, yeah it was alright’, or
change. In particular, respondents suggested that            ‘nah, we found some real issues out there; you
resources are wasted due to repetition, overlap-             mob of young kids have got to get out there
ping activities, or major gaps in knowledge.                 and do a bit more’. (Respondent 3, 21/3/2013)

© 2015 Institute of Australian Geographers
64                                                                                 Geographical Research • 2016

     I think the reason this project works so well is       going to go walking away, and that they’ve
     that community members get really enthusi-             got the intellectual property for it. (Respond-
     astic about going out to monitor – it is their         ent 3, 21/3/2013)
     animals, on their land, their country. They are
                                                         Projects such as Ara Irititja, a digital archive for
     proud to look after their country. (Respondent
                                                         Anangu focussing on the preservation of cultural
     6, 26/3/2013)
                                                         heritage, show that it is possible to navigate this
On occasions, mutual trust seems to be lacking           complex field of intellectual and cultural prop-
between Anangu and management personnel.                 erty rights while providing an important service
That situation raises important ethical and philo-       to both Anangu and non-Aboriginal researchers
sophical issues about the use and maintenance of         interested in Anangu history and culture (Ara
different types of knowledge, particularly when          Irititja, 2014).
it is sourced from people who are relatively                As Anangu elders who have direct experience
disempowered within knowledge production and             of walking, understanding, and living off the
use systems. In fact, the incorporation of tradi-        semi-arid rangelands age and pass away, much of
tional biocultural knowledge into normalised             the complex and detailed traditional ecological
knowledge systems risks devaluing the very dif-          knowledge they hold is lost with them (Bardsley
ference that is core to the long-term socio-             and Wiseman, 2012a; Ara Irititja, 2014). Besides
ecological value of Indigenous ways of knowing,          the immediate challenge that represents to Indig-
understanding, and utilising environmental               enous communities and cultures, such knowl-
information (Muller, 2012; Bardsley and                  edge represents some of the most important
Wiseman, 2012a). Explicit concerns were raised           remaining fragments of traditional biocultural
about the outcomes of monitoring activities,             heritage in Australia. Some traditional knowl-
including who subsequently owns or makes use             edge about local environments that was created
of the information.                                      and built upon over innumerable generations of
                                                         living off country is being recorded and kept in a
     It’s also what you do with the information:
                                                         manner that suits the needs of both Indigenous
     that’s a critical outcome. Why should commu-
                                                         people and western science, yet much is lost to
     nities go out and collect information and give
                                                         contemporary and future managers of country.
     it to you if you’re not going to help them do
                                                         Formal education systems could act to bridge the
     anything with it? So there’s got to be an
                                                         gap between intergenerational knowledge, but at
     outcome from the collection of the data. . . . I
                                                         the moment the integration of school education,
     think you need a long term strategy of how
                                                         formal NRM, and traditional land use activities is
     you get community involved – the ‘what’s in
                                                         weak.
     it for me?’ outcomes have got to be there.
     (Respondent 3, 21/3/2013)                              I would say our links into the school curricu-
                                                            lum needs to be a little bit more formal-
The appropriate sharing of information appears
                                                            ised . . . at the moment it’s more ad-hoc: we
in some cases to be actively prevented due to lack
                                                            have someone going up, they give the school a
of trust between people, which ultimately inhib-
                                                            call before they go up and say ‘hey, we’re
its learning and collaboration. Even the marker to
                                                            doing this’, the school says ‘yep, that’s good’,
a piece of information, such as a reference and
                                                            and it’s all good. But in terms of longer-term
abstract, may be unobtainable due to cultural
                                                            career paths, we need to get better at getting it
sensitivities, let alone the actual traditional
                                                            locked into a curriculum so there’s a long-
knowledge in any comprehensive form. Clearly
                                                            term strategy in place . . . [at the moment] it
such barriers need to be in place to protect Indig-
                                                            doesn’t necessarily provide long-term career
enous culture, but respondents fear breaching
                                                            paths or that base understanding of NRM as a
intellectual property rights by using traditional
                                                            job. (Respondent 5, 26/3/2013)
ecological knowledge in formal assessments of
rangeland condition.                                     All of these challenges suggest that it is vital now
                                                         to develop or expand appropriate, ethical
     How we end up with consistent long term data
                                                         approaches to engage Indigenous communities
     management strategies is a critical issue. [We
                                                         for more mutually beneficial outcomes.
     need strategies] that have got the right level of
     protections on it for people, so that commu-           The aim is to give communities the empow-
     nities know that if they want to put informa-          erment, the knowledge and the ability. That is
     tion in there, it’s going to be there, it’s not        very important, because at this stage it is the

                                                                       © 2015 Institute of Australian Geographers
N.D. Wiseman and D.K. Bardsley: Rangelands Indigenous Community-Based Monitoring                           65

   communities who are most at threat.                    fire risk, food insecurity) could overcome
   (Respondent 8, 24/4/2013)                              this gap. Finally, the quadrant of utilising tradi-
                                                          tional knowledge primarily for external interests
Arguably, if Anangu are going to become equal
                                                          (top right quadrant of Figure 2) appears at first
partners in the monitoring and management of
                                                          glance to represent an undesirable situation,
rangelands, the journeys of building knowledge
                                                          given that it could involve either an exploitation
through social learning (field trips, sharing of
                                                          or devaluing of Anangu understandings of place
stories, talking) are as important as the destina-
                                                          in relation to scientific data collection and analy-
tions that store and transmit that knowledge in
                                                          sis. However, rather than being a one-way extrac-
data and reports (Muller, 2012). This distinction
                                                          tive encounter, such approaches can provide
has clear similarities with Berkes’ (2009, 153)
                                                          employment while re-emphasising local commu-
emphasis on traditional knowledge as a process
                                                          nities’ traditional knowledge as it comes under
to ‘teach what to look for and how to look for
                                                          significant risk from intergenerational loss, and
what is important’.
                                                          supporting institutional learning about culturally
                                                          relevant NRM and long-term trends in resource
Future opportunities for monitoring in the                condition. Traditional ecological knowledge
AW NRM region                                             could provide an alternative baseline for range-
In order to develop a clear direction for future          land condition, but it is not formally recorded or
monitoring programmes and address respond-                accessible by other interested researchers and/or
ents’ concerns about a lack of cohesion, it will be       managers. By prioritising Indigenous involve-
necessary to have a shared discussion about what          ment, traditional socio-cultural baselines could
monitoring is important to all stakeholders to            be utilised during assessments of current
ensure that all goals are reflected, especially local     resource condition (Harmsworth et al., 2011;
community interests and needs (Zander et al.,             Parlee et al., 2012). Much of that baseline may
2014). By talking with Anangu across the AW               remain largely inaccessible to western science
region, it could be possible to develop a shared          unless the Indigenous knowledge owners provide
set of traditional and contemporary indicators of         specific permission, but by valuing and incorpo-
healthy/unhealthy ecosystems for all monitoring           rating local Indigenous knowledge a baseline
programmes. Increased levels of trust between             drawn from deep knowledge of an ancient rela-
Indigenous and non-Indigenous knowledge                   tionship with a place could compensate for the
holders and users might also evolve through such          relatively limited scientific knowledge of the
a process. The indicators could involve particular        vast, remote region.
targeted ecosystems or species for which there is            In recent research involving community work-
mutual concern, or broader signs of landscape,            shops with the AW NRM Board with Indigenous
ecosystem, or community health (Green and                 communities at Yalata, Ernabella, Kenmore Park,
Minchin, 2014). By choosing a diversity of                and Kanpi-Nyapari, two important specific
systems to monitor through the application of             opportunities emerged – one spatial, the other
different participatory methodologies, it would           temporal – for monitoring environmental change
be possible to integrate community monitoring             in the region (Wiseman and Bardsley, 2015). A
into a broader process of experimentation and             spatial example of Indigenous community-based
learning to adapt to changing socio-ecological            monitoring in the north of the AW NRM
circumstances in the rangelands (Argent, 2009;            region could be the development of a managed
Stafford-Smith et al., 2009). In light of the             bushfoods zone, where hunting is controlled and
review above, reorganising, revaluing, and                threatening processes such as invasive species
expanding old activities or introducing new               (e.g. Buffel grass, camels) are managed. Such an
monitoring programmes that aim to value and               area was identified by Ernabella community resi-
make use of traditional knowledge for local com-          dents in workshops as being an important refuge
munity benefit might focus such choices (top left         area for valued bushfood species due to the
quadrant of Figure 2).                                    denser tree cover (Figure 3). Concerns were also
   Another element which appears to be under-             raised about hunting pressures leading to a
represented in the AW programmes is the use of            decline in the availability of favoured game
scientific knowledge for local community benefit          animals, particularly kangaroo. By monitoring
(bottom left quadrant of Figure 2). A monitoring          and managing bushfood species within the zone,
programme which focuses on identifying and                as well as recording hunting effort and yield,
monitoring local community hazards (flooding,             Anangu could better understand threats to

© 2015 Institute of Australian Geographers
You can also read