The Rangeland Journal The Rangeland Journal Society
Rangeland ecology and management
RESEARCH ARTICLE

Supporting Indigenous rangers’ management of climate-change impacts on heritage sites: developing an effective planning tool and assessing its value

Bethune Carmichael
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

Australian National University, Canberra, ACT 0200, Australia; Charles Darwin University, Alice Springs, NT 0871, Australia. Email: bethune.carmichael@cdu.edu.au

The Rangeland Journal 37(6) 597-607 https://doi.org/10.1071/RJ15048
Submitted: 4 June 2015  Accepted: 27 November 2015   Published: 22 December 2015

Abstract

Australian rangelands are rich in Indigenous cultural heritage sites and Indigenous rangers increasingly manage them. It is well documented that climate-change adaptation planning on a local scale benefits from a stakeholder-led or bottom-up process. However, to date, few bottom-up, practical adaptation pathways exist for Indigenous Australians. This paper describes the development of a planning tool that supports Indigenous rangers’ plan for climate-change impacts on cultural heritage sites. To date, a limited number of methodologies for managing climate-change impacts on heritage sites have been developed internationally. Importantly these are not geared to a bottom-up planning process. By contrast, many generic adaptation decision-support tools exist that support bottom-up planning. These tools commonly begin with a scoping phase. The scoping phase of a tool that supports Indigenous rangers manage climate-change impacts on heritage sites is described. A validation model, consisting of central assumptions behind each element of the scoping phase, is then set out. Future testing in the field would involve assessment of the tool through confirmation or otherwise of these assumptions. The first two assumptions in the validation model are then addressed: that Indigenous rangers perceive climate-change impacts on heritage sites and that planning for them is a priority need. Previous literature has not addressed these questions in detail. Only if positive responses are gained for these foundational assumptions can future testing of the tool be justified. Results from preliminary fieldwork undertaken in northern Australia found Indigenous rangers in two out of three case studies perceive impacts on heritage sites, and regard addressing these impacts as a priority.

Additional keywords: climate-change adaptation, cultural geography, environmental management, heritage studies, Indigenous knowledge.


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