Joint management between traditional Indigenous owners of protected areas and the Northern Territory government is a legislative requirement. Substantial funds are invested in the process which can include employment of Indigenous rangers, the distribution of lease funds and agreements on cultural heritage. This project was a collaboration between CDU researchers, the parks service, the Northern and Central Land Councils and the traditional owners of four park clusters to monitor, in a participatory fashion, progress towards joint management. The traditional owners and park managers of Watarrka, Flora River, MacDonnell ranges and Adelaide River protected areas first identified indicators they thought appropriate for their parks. Most of these were concerned with process rather than outcomes, particularly related to human and social capital. Traditional owners in particular emphasised the need for respectful interaction, as might be expected as relationships are being established. They were also concerned that joint management yielded economic benefits including jobs <see Developing Indicators for Monitoring and Evaluating Joint Management Effectiveness in Protected Areas in the Northern Territory, Australia>.
Partners were also trained in participatory monitoring and undertook a baseline assessment. This suggested that natural resource condition, communication and use of traditional knowledge were mostly satisfactory. However it was agreed that training in park management and business as well as enterprise development were lacking <see Collaborative Measurement of Performance of Jointly Managed Protected Areas in Northern Australia>.
A guidebook was also produced on how participatory management should be undertaken was produced <see Guidebook for Supporting Participatory Monitoring and Evaluation of Jointly Managed Parks in the Northern Territory>. Importantly, if the monitoring occurs at the same time as annual planning meetings, the costs of participatory management are relatively low <see Costs of participatory monitoring and evaluation of joint management of protected areas in the Northern Territory, Australia> so that there is an opportunity to track change over time, particularly the impact of interventions.
RIEL researchers: Stephen Garnett, Natasha Stacey and Arturo Izurieta.