National Wetlands Update February 2013
Issue No. 22, February 2013
Indigenous cultural and spiritual values in water quality planning
Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities
Case studies of water quality planning processes that have included Indigenous cultural and spiritual values have been published to start addressing the gap in the National Water Quality Management Strategy.
(Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities)
Case studies of water quality planning processes that have included Indigenous cultural and spiritual values have been published under the National Water Quality Management Strategy (NWQMS).
A number of 'good practice' themes emerged from the case studies, including that good integration of Indigenous cultural and spiritual values requires:
- due respect for Indigenous law, custom and traditional knowledge;
- early identification and engagement of the most appropriate Indigenous stakeholders and representatives
- information sharing using a range of accessible formats including, for example, illustrated models, booklets and stories
- pro-active efforts to build cultural awareness and positive relationships between stakeholders;
- the integration of science and traditional knowledge, and
- continual collaboration with Indigenous stakeholders.
One of the case studies focuses on the Police Lagoons Wetland Conceptual Model, Queensland. The Police Lagoons are located on the Lower Balonne River floodplain in the Murray-Darling Basin. In this case study, a conceptual model was developed by Queensland's Department of Environment and Heritage Protection (DEHP), in partnership with the Queensland Murray-Darling Committee (QMDC) and local Indigenous Traditional Owner groups to "document the cultural, spiritual and historical significance of Police Lagoons for Indigenous people".
Workshops that brought together the DEHP, QMDC, the Regional Aboriginal Advisory Group, Indigenous persons in the community and the Traditional Owners of Police Lagoons were held to develop wetland conceptual models that integrate cultural, spiritual, hydrological and ecological values of the lagoons and support community goals to maintain and improve the wetland's values. The lagoons were identified as a functioning wetland, meeting place, swimming hole, campsite, bora ring, and burial site. Water extraction and land-use change have led to increased pressure on Police Lagoons, with particular threats including declining water quality, pests, erosion, loss of habitat and changes in the water regime of the wetlands.
The development of conceptual models provides a platform for knowledge exchange between ecologists, Indigenous people and wetland managers. The models will assist managers to plan and manage wetlands to protect water quality amongst other wetland values.
The Indigenous cultural and spiritual values in water quality planning report is available on the DSEWPaC website: Indigenous cultural & spiritual values in water quality planning.