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Three Management Challenges for Protection of Aboriginal Cultural Heritage in a Tasmanian Multiple-use Conservation Area

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Protected areas that are created to safeguard environmental values such as Indigenous culturescapes may in fact significantly fail in this task. This study concerns such an instance in far north-west Tasmania, where the government adopted a multiple-use resource conservation-development management model for the Arthur-Pieman Conservation Area (APCA). The model offers protection of cultural heritage values whilst permitting numerous community recreational and commercial uses. One particular objective is to protect 'an extraordinary richness of Aboriginal cultural heritage' in one of Earth's great archaeological regions (DPIWE, Arthur-Pieman Conservation Area Management Plan, 2002, p. iii). Yet under the auspices of multiple use, Aborigine and others report unremitting damage and loss of ancestral values. To examine how this is so in an actively managed protected area, perceptions of 16 environmental professionals and local residents engaged in APCA planning and management are used to identify three major challenges for appropriate custodianship of the Aboriginal cultural landscape: Aboriginal-Eurocentric conflicts; limited community governance capacities; and deficient regulatory provisions. It is concluded that APCA multiple-use management of heritage conservation is ineffectual and that an alternative governance model is required urgently. The management challenges examined here offer insights for problematic Indigenous cultural heritage conservation in other jurisdictions of Australia and elsewhere.
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Keywords: Aboriginal cultural heritage; Tasmania, protected area; community governance; environmental management; multiple use

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of Tasmania, Australia

Publication date: March 1, 2007

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