Towards Equity in Indigenous Co-Management of Protected Areas: Cultural Planning by Miriuwung-Gajerrong People in the Kimberley, Western Australia



Delivery of the potential mutual benefits for biodiversity conservation and Indigenous peoples through protected area co-management remains challenging, with partnership arrangements frequently delivering inequitable outcomes that marginalise Indigenous interests. In the Kimberley region of Western Australia, Miriuwung-Gajerrong people initiated a Cultural Planning Framework to help achieve greater equity in planning for co-management of the first Indigenous-owned protected areas managed with the state. Analysis of the negotiation and delivery of this Indigenous-controlled planning initiative concluded it made a key contribution in shaping an equitable intercultural space for ongoing negotiation of co-management. A practitioners' model of related design concepts drawn from the analysis identified three factors of significance: a foundation platform of recognition of rights and interests; a set of effective organisations to support the roles of the key actors; and effective mechanisms for working together. The model proved robust when evaluated against international standards for best practice, suggesting it may be a useful tool for guiding better uptake of those standards. Interrogation of the two major theories underpinning these standards – common pool resource (CPR) and governance – demonstrated the theories are synergistic and inform different parts of the model. Both theories highlight the significance of Indigenous-controlled planning. Attention to relational theory for interrogation of the intercultural space may help illuminate their relative importance. Further investigation of the potential of Indigenous-controlled planning to build theory and practice in Indigenous co-management of protected areas is recommended.