Indigenous Knowledge for Conservation of Natural and Cultural Resources: A Case Study in the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area of Far North Queensland
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In the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area (hereafter WTWHA) of Queensland, Australia inclusion of indigenous knowledge into cooperative land management is at its first stages of development. Current policies have sought to recognize indigenous knowledge and participation in planning, though research and policy has failed to produce significant evidence to nominate the WTWHA for cultural values. Using 27 interviews combined with literature analysis this research investigates the barriers and benefits resulting from the 1988 World Heritage Listing solely for ecological values. Since Listing, numerous publications have documented the cultural continuance of traditional indigenous owners through cultural maps, written histories and anthropological evidence. This paper presents preliminary findings from qualitative research informed by government agencies, scientists, traditional owners and land consultants of the WTWHA. Interviews suggest that inclusive land management will enhance the protection of the natural and cultural resources that have defined this area for millennia. World Heritage listing is a barrier to the incorporation of Aboriginal customary law1 into statutory law2 and common law.3 In protected area land management, WHL for natural criteria has failed to: appreciably include traditional owners as co-managers of the land, develop lasting partnerships and recognize the universal value of endemic cultures to the Wet Tropics.
co-management; indigenous knowledge; land management; World Heritage Listing
dissertation or thesis