Supporting Indigenous ranges manage the impacts of climate change on cultural sites

  • Bethune Carmichael

    Student thesis: Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) - CDU


    A growing global awareness of climate change threats to cultural heritage sites (cultural sites) has seen the recent emergence of multiple management methodologies. However, none of these are amenable to use by local, non-specialist groups using participatory planning processes, such as Indigenous ranger groups. This research aimed to develop a Cultural Site Adaptation Guide (the Guide), a decision support tool to assist non-specialists undertaking participatory, climate change adaptation planning for cultural sites. A preliminary version of the Guide was created by synthesising elements from generic, bottom-up climate change adaptation planning tools on the one hand, and a risk analysis methodology that combined and built on archaeological approaches pioneered in the United Kingdom and France on the other. The first three steps of the five-step Guide are steps for Scoping, Risk analysis, and Options analysis. The research engaged two Indigenous ranger groups in Australia’s Northern Territory with strong perceptions of climate change impacts on cultural sites and a strong view that managing these impacts is a priority need. The preliminary Guide was tested and further refined by the Indigenous rangers, using a Participatory Action Research methodology. The Scoping step allowed rangers to undertake: a detailed problem analysis that identified types and general locations of vulnerable cultural sites and the nature of impacts; planning goals and appropriate methodological approaches; and resource deficiencies and planning barriers. The Risk analysis step allowed rangers to allocate a management priority rating to 126 cultural sites. The Options step found rangers were able to identify, appraise and rank a diverse range of adaptation options, including ones aimed at direct cultural site intervention, building ranger adaptive capacity, and building cultural site resilience. The Option step also allowed rangers to generate their own preliminary cultural site adaptation plan. The research found that practical and rigorous approaches can be taken to climate change adaptation of cultural sites by nonspecialists, even where resources are likely to be severely constrained.
    Date of AwardJul 2018
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorRolf Gerritsen (Supervisor)

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