Geographic information systems are a means to develop a common framework for the integration of a range of perspectives into natural resources management decisions. The incorporation of these perspectives presents more than a technical challenge—diverse knowledge systems make demands on the structure of geodatabases, the ways in which data are collected, held and interrogated, and the choices around which types of knowledge can and should be incorporated. Here, we investigate these questions in the context of Indigenous Yorta Yorta knowledge contributions to the management of a sensitive region of the Murray–Darling Basin in Australia. Management of the Barmah-Millewa region and its natural resources is governed by a wide array of sometimes inconsistent policies with differing regulatory frameworks and management foci. We find that (1) appropriate collection, management and database design protocols require substantive intellectual property protections and (2) once in place, spatial analysis can support management decisions without revealing sensitive information. Importantly, these protocols support the effective and respectful participation of the Yorta Yorta community in management of this ecologically, economically and culturally important region.
- Geographic information system
- Indigenous knowledge
- Land management
- Murray–Darling Basin