Monitoring and evaluation of Indigenous Land and Sea Management: An Indigenous-led approach in the Arafura Swamp, northern Australia

Otto Bulmaniya Campion, Mali Djarrbal, Charlie Ramandjarri, Gladys Womati Malibirr, Peter Djigirr, Margaret Dalparri, Dale Djanbadi, Roseann Malibirr, Mark Malibirr, Evonne Munuygu, Solomon O'Ryan, Florence Biridjala, Paul Bunbuyŋu, Neville Gulaygulay, Jonathan Yalandhu, Margaret Guwankil, Caleb Campion, Benjamin Campion, David Bidingal, Peter GuyulaSammy Guyula, Michelle Guyula, Erica Ngurrwuthun, Helen Truscott, Yaakov Bar-Lev, Katie Degnian, Emma Ignjic, Beau J. Austin, Simon West, Gawura Waṉambi

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As Indigenous Land and Sea Management has grown in scope and scale, there has been increasing focus on monitoring and evaluation to foster learning, strengthen accountability and report on outcomes. A resurgence in Indigenous governance has led to recognition that Indigenous knowledge, law and governance systems are essential to successful conservation initiatives on Indigenous lands. Indigenous-led monitoring and evaluation involves Indigenous peoples exercising control, direction and informed decisions about monitoring and evaluation practices and signals a greater role for Indigenous methodologies alongside participatory approaches and Western sciences. This paper describes the Intercultural Monitoring and Evaluation Project, led by the Arafura Swamp Rangers Aboriginal Corporation in partnership with Bi and Yolŋu Traditional Owners and clans and non-Indigenous practitioners and researchers. The Intercultural Monitoring and Evaluation Project aimed to co-produce an Indigenous-led and Country-based monitoring and evaluation system for Arafura Swamp Rangers Aboriginal Corporation's Healthy Country Plan. The Intercultural Monitoring and Evaluation Project recognised that the Rangers from the Arafura Swamp Rangers Aboriginal Corporation are accountable within Bi, Yolŋu and Western governance systems and that monitoring and evaluation at Arafura Swamp Rangers Aboriginal Corporation needed to strengthen relationships between all three. The Intercultural Monitoring and Evaluation Project involved: (i) developing understandings of monitoring and evaluation in Bi, Yolŋu and Western knowledge systems, (ii) generating organisational roadmaps, targets and indicators, (iii) developing Bi, Yolŋu and Western monitoring methods, (iv) building a data management system and seasonal monitoring calendar, (v) initiating a monitoring and evaluation committee to inform Arafura Swamp Rangers Aboriginal Corporation's strategic decision-making and (vi) sharing the story of the project with others. This approach embedded monitoring and evaluation in Indigenous law and governance, oral knowledge traditions and the intergenerational kinship relationships that sustain people and Country, while also connecting to Western adaptive management frameworks. Indigenous-led approaches can integrate monitoring and evaluation with Indigenous practices of caring for Country, contributing directly to the multiple ecological, cultural and socio-economic goals of Indigenous Land and Sea Management.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)75-88
Number of pages14
JournalEcological Management and Restoration
Issue number2-3
Publication statusPublished - 14 Dec 2023

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