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The Natural Heritage Trust and Indigenous Lands: the trials and tribulations of 'new technologies of governance'

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Social and political changes occurring in Western democracies have required the development of approaches referred to by scholars such as Nikolas Rose as 'new technologies of governance'. These experiments in governance are paradigmatically different from previous approaches and, as a consequence, there is much to learn about how to ensure their equity and effectiveness. In this paper, we examine the contribution of the Natural Heritage Trust (NHT) to the management of Indigenous lands in Australia. We present data which show, conclusively, that the land management needs of Indigenous communities have been poorly accommodated by the NHT. We suggest that the architects of NHT III and similar programs need to remember that: (i) rescaling governance does not ensure equitable outcomes across diverse regional populations; (ii) strategies for Indigenous community engagement need rethinking; and (iii) Indigenous community and civil society capacity building remains an ongoing challenge.

Keywords: Environmental management; Indigenous lands; community-based environmental management; governance; regionalisation

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: CSIRO Sustainable Ecosystems, Canberra

Publication date: March 1, 2009

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