Island country: aboriginal connections, values and knowledge of the Western Australian Kimberley islands in the context of an Island Biological Survey

Records of the Western Australian Museum Supplement 81(1):145, January 2013
Tom Vigilante, J. Toohey, A. Gorring, Kim Doohan

Access the paper – DOI: 10.18195/issn.0313-122x.81.2013.145-182

ABSTRACT – Our paper describes Aboriginal connections, values and knowledge of the Kimberley islands and their resources in the context of a terrestrial biological survey of 24 islands, initiated by the Western Australian Government and coordinated by the Department of Environment and Conservation (DEC). The Kimberley islands represent part of the traditional lands of Aboriginal people in the region and hold great signifi cance and value for them. The Kimberley Land Council (KLC) facilitated the participation of 50 Aboriginal Traditional Owners in this survey, which spanned fi ve Native Title areas, three of which have now been determined (Bardi and Jawi, Wanjina Wunggurr Dambimangari and Wanjina Wunggurr Uunguu) and two of which are still in mediation (Balanggarra and Mayala). The KLC and DEC negotiated a research agreement that provided for managed access to sensitive cultural sites, data sharing, the participation of Traditional Owners in fi eld work alongside scientists and input by Traditional Owners in the fi nal publications and recommendations resulting from this survey.Our paper also places the island survey and its fi ndings into the broader context of Indigenous Natural and Cultural Resource Management (INCRM) in the Kimberley region, including the development of Indigenous Protected Areas and Indigenous Rangers, and other projects such as fi re abatement and tourism management, along with traditional management practices which operate independently from formal management programs.

Mangguru (marine turtles) and Balguja (dugong) Monitoring Project: Looking after Turtles and Dugongs on Wunambal Gaambera Country, North Kimberley

Micha Jackson, Peter Bayliss, Rod Kennett, Tom Vigilante

August 2012 — Proceedings of the First Western Australian Marine Turtle Symposium, 28-29th

Indigenous communities have increasingly been expressing their aspirations for the management of their marine and coastal environments through a process known as sea country planning. The Wunambal Gaambera Aboriginal Corporation, representing the Traditional Owner community associated with the Uunguu Native Title Determination, has chosen to create…

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Insights into the biodiversity and social benchmarking components of the Northern Australian fire management and carbon abatement programmes

James A. Fitzsimons, Jeremy Russell‐Smith, Glenn James, Michael Looker
January 2012 — Ecological Management & Restoration 13(1):51 – 57

Summary Much of northern Australia’s tropical savannas are subject to annual intense and extensive late dry season wildfires, much of this occurring on Aboriginal land. Based on the successful West Arnhem Land Fire Abatement (WALFA) model, which has resulted in significantly reduced greenhouse gas emissions, fire abatement programmes are planned fo…

Access the paper — DOI: 10.1111/j.1442-8903.2011.00624.x

Aboriginal fire use in Australian tropical savannas: Ecological effects and management lessons

Tom Vigilante, Brett P. Murphy, David M. J. S. Bowman, Mark A. Cochrane
January 2009 — Chapter from book Tropical Fire Ecology (pp.143-167)

DOI: 10.1007/978-3-540-77381-8_6
In book: Tropical Fire Ecology (pp.143-167)

Aboriginal people share a consistent landscape-burning practice across the vast Northern Australian savanna region. The practice is spatially and seasonally diverse and has been widely applied to manage important animal and plant resources and to bring about health y and amenable landscape states. The burning practices of Aboriginal people and their associated knowledge systems provide valuable alternative s to Western scientific paradigms. Aboriginal people have experienced major demographic and cultural change in the post-colonial period, including the loss of access and ownership of land. Unmanaged wildfires now dominate contemporary fire regimes. with Aboriginal burning largely restricted to some Aboriginal lands. Scientific studies have linked recent changes in fire regime to the decline of key taxa, such as granivorous birds, small-sized to medium-sized mammals and fire-sensitive vegetation types. Aboriginal people remain important land managers in the savannas; representing a large proportion of the rural population, with large land holdings. and with influential land rights. Fire management continues on some Aboriginal lands and is being increasingly implemented by formal Aboriginal natural resource management agencies. The maintenance of indigenous ecological knowledge is also the focus of some indigenous-owned programs. Global climate change presents a new challenge to Aboriginal land managers but also presents opportunities for participation in the emerging carbon economy.

Contemporary landscape burning patterns in the far North Kimberley region of north-west Australia: Human influences and environmental determinants

Tom Vigilante, David M. J. S. Bowman, Rohan P Fisher, Cameron Yates
July 2004 — Journal of Biogeography 31(8):1317 – 1333
Access the paper — DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2699.2004.01104.x

This study of contemporary landscape burning patterns in the North Kimberley aims to determine the relative influences of environmental factors and compare the management regimes occurring on Aboriginal lands, pastoral leases, national park and crown land. Location The study area is defined at the largest scale by Landsat Scene 108–70 that covers a total land area of 23,134 km2 in the North Kimberley Bioregion of north-west Australia, including the settlement of Kalumburu, coastline between Vansittart Bay in the west and the mouth of the Berkeley River in the east, and stretching approximately 200 km inland.

Effects of fire history on the structure and floristic composition of woody vegetation around Kalumburu, North Kimberley, Australia: A landscape-scale natural experiment

January 2004 — Australian Journal of Botany 52(3)
DOI: 10.1071/BT03156
Tom Vigilante, David M. J. S. Bowman

Indigenous landscape burning is practiced around remote communities in the Kimberleys but has been replaced by wildfires across uninhabited areas. A landscape-scale natural experiment was established to investigate the effects of these different fire histories (derived from a 10-year Landsat remote-sensing sequence) on the floristic structure and composition of woody vegetation within and among three of the major vegetation types on three landscape types (sandplain, sandstone and volcanics) near Kalumburu in the North Kimberley bioregion. Substrate factors determine vegetation and associated fire patterns within the landscape such that each landscape type needs to be examined independently. Basalt soils are dominated by an open savanna and tend to have very high fire frequencies. Basalt vegetation showed few significant response variables to fire-history parameters…

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