Operationalising Aboriginal land and sea management | Natural Hazards Research Australia

Operationalising Aboriginal land and sea management

Photo: Josh Whittaker
Project type

Core research

Project status

In progress

This project is the initial phase of a more extensive pathway to implement Aboriginal land and sea management on a broad landscape scale, meeting Aboriginal community aspirations for social, cultural and economic outcomes, and addressing environmental and natural hazard challenges.

The initial phase of the project focuses on addressing four key areas: the values challenge, the policy challenge, the implementation challenge and the reporting outcomes challenge.

The overall goal is to enable a paradigm shift in landscape management that recognises and promotes the benefits of Aboriginal land and sea management while respecting Aboriginal perspectives.

Project details

Aboriginal communities in NSW have been caring for Country since the Dreaming. However, ongoing species extinctions, natural hazards caused by colonisation, climate change and landscape changes could be supported by implementing Aboriginal land and sea management (ALSM). Increased NSW Government support for ALSM will lead to Aboriginal community involvement in land management. Implementing ALSM offers conservation, cultural and social benefits, but upscaling current ALSM practices across the landscape is challenging.

This project aims to prepare a pathway for ALSM implementation in NSW that includes Aboriginal cultural values and perspectives, supports more significant Aboriginal community outcomes, and promotes cultural safety and respect.

This project identifies six key problems and aims to create work packages that address them:

  • the values challenge aims to identify Aboriginal community values and understand how they relate to mainstream land management and conservation.
  • the policy challenge aims to review existing policies to identify pathways for implementation of ALSM. 
  • the implementation challenge aims to scope culturally appropriate ALSM responses to contemporary challenges while addressing capacity needs and empowering Aboriginal community contribution and leadership. 
  • the reporting outcomes challenge aims to design and implement outcomes measures for ALSM initiatives that are meaningful to Aboriginal communities while also informing current land management outcomes.

Through addressing these challenges, this research aims to provide a foundation for the effective implementation of ALSM practices in land management policy in NSW. The overall goal is to enable a paradigm shift in landscape management that recognises and promotes the benefits of ALSM while respecting Aboriginal perspectives. By doing so, this research seeks to empower Aboriginal communities in their land management efforts and support sustainable environmental practices.

Successful implementation of ALSM could lead to positive impacts such as the revitalisation of Aboriginal culture, improved conservation outcomes, social, cultural, and economic benefits for Aboriginal communities, better sustainability in the face of growing natural hazards, economic gains, environmental outcomes, and improved policy responses to natural hazard and conservation issues.

The project has significant potential to inform policy development and implementation, promote community engagement and capacity building, enhance monitoring and evaluation practices, and contribute to the broader recognition and impact of ALSM.

Specific translation, implementation and utilisation pathways for the project could include:

  • policy development
  • Aboriginal community engagement
  • capacity building
  • monitoring and evaluation
  • policy transferability.

Related projects

Healing Country through Wolgalu/Wiradjuri-led land management