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Experts' Perspectives on the Integration of Indigenous Knowledge and Science in Wet Tropics Natural Resource Management

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Aboriginal inhabitants of the Wet Tropics of Queensland advocate for greater inclusion of their Indigenous knowledge (IK) in natural resource management (NRM) to fulfil their customary obligations to country and to exert their Native Title rights. Despite a legal and institutional framework for inclusion of IK in NRM, IK has so far been applied only sporadically. We conducted an ethnographic case study to investigate perceptions on IK, science and how they affect integration of the two knowledge systems in the Wet Tropics. Our results show that IK and science are perceived as different concepts; that integration is limited by weak Indigenous internal and external governance; and that stronger Aboriginal governance and more focused engagement strategies are required to further the application of IK in local NRM. We conclude by arguing that NRM in the Wet Tropics needs to be reconceptualised to accommodate IK holistically, by considering its epistemology and the values and ethic that underpin it.
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Keywords: Indigenous environmental values; Indigenous governance; Indigenous knowledge; Wet Tropics; traditional ecological knowledge

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: James Cook University, CSIRO Ecosystem Sciences, Australia 2: CSIRO Ecosystem Sciences, Australia 3: James Cook University, Australia

Publication date: April 3, 2014

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